By: Philip S. Lakritz, M.D.
NEW JERSEY – Good news for women! In a major benefits change, Cigna, one of the largest health care insurers in New Jersey, has revised its medical coverage policy which will now cover three-dimensional (3D) mammography (3D tomosynthesis) for routine breast cancer screening. Under its previous policy, the company only covered 3D mammography for diagnostic purposes, but not for routine screening. Based on recent guidance from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers that sets standards for high-quality cancer care, Cigna has changed its 3D mammography coverage allowing more patient access to 3D mammography.
A mammogram is the gold standard for breast cancer detection. Current mammograms are generated using 2D images, however, the new 3D technology, produces images which allow for better visualization and evaluation of breast architecture. The new 3D technology, used in combination with the current 2D digital mammography, improves a radiologist’s accuracy in detecting suspicious breast tissue from normal breast tissue. 3D imaging is also helpful in younger women who tend to have dense breast tissue. Recent research has shown that a combination of 3D/tomosynthesis with a 2D mammogram has a 40 percent higher detection rate of the most serious invasive breast cancers, and reduces the “false positive” recalls that results in additional mammography and breast ultrasound by as much as 25 percent. Digital breast tomosynthesis, similar to conventional 2D mammography, uses similar technique to generate the high resolution images. These 2D/3D images are then interpreted by the breast radiologists at our medical center.
In conjunction with the Society of Breast Imaging and the Breast Imaging Commission of the American College of Radiology, we continue to support annual screening mammography beginning age 40 for women of average risk. Women with increased risk for breast cancer (genetic predisposition, family history, high risk biopsy results) should begin screening mammography at an earlier age. Routine breast examinations, including self- examination are also important to a woman’s breast health. Any self-discovered changes should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible. Remember that early detection saves lives!
Board certified Radiologist Philip S. Lakritz, M.D., is chair of the department of diagnostic imaging at Raritan Bay Medical Center, a member of the Hackensack Meridian Health family. To schedule a mammogram at Raritan Bay in Old Bridge or Perth Amboy, call 732.324.5270.