SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) - Mammography testing has evolved over the past 20 years, but now it's being put to a rigorous test.
The National Cancer Institute is paying for a huge research project at 100 clinics, including St. Joseph's/Candler and The Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion.
"We've been using the traditional 2-dimensional mammography forever, and there's lots of controversy about how often women should have a mammogram, what age they should have a mammogram," says Dr. Howard Zaren at St. Joseph's/Candler, "So it's very confusing."
The other issue is false alarms.
The National Cancer Institute's research project will track 165,000 women over 5 years to determine which mammogram is more beneficial - the pricier 3D or the standard x-ray exam.
Dr. Zaren says two employees will track the patient after the data is collected electronically - every biopsy, test and mammogram performed.
"They look at every part of what happens to this woman over 5 years," he says. "That's a big deal."
It's one of the largest randomized trials of mammography in decades.
"That data will tell us a number of things, we hope," Dr. Zaren explains, "What's better [is if] we find more aggressive tumors early because that's the way breast cancer is best treated."
Experts believe this study will move us toward a more individualized screening, rather than the traditional one-size-fits-all screening.
For more information, or to find out how you can join the study, visit the St. Joseph's/Candler website here.
Maintaining regular mammograms, if needed, and routine self-breast exams can aid in early diagnosis. For simple reminders and additional resources, check out Buddy Check 3 here.