What is the role of 3D helical CT in breast cancer imaging?

Updated: Oct 17, 2016
  • Author: Nagwa Dongola, MD, FRCR; Chief Editor: Peter Eby, MD  more...
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Answer

Three-dimensional (3D) helical CT can provide good information about the spread of breast cancer and could be an alternative to 3D MRI for preoperative examination of breast cancer. In vitro high-resolution helical CT can depict the internal structure of small nodes. Morphologic changes detected on helical CT help distinguish benign from malignant nodes. Tumors appear as dense lesions on CT and usually show early contrast enhancement similar to that seen with dynamic MRI. CT is less sensitive than mammography for detecting microcalcification when it is the sole manifestation of early cancer.

In one study, 3D CT depicted nearly all of the tumors and defined the correct tumor extent in most patients. Its sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in diagnosing muscular invasion of breast cancer were 100%, 99%, and 99%, respectively. Its sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in diagnosing skin invasion of breast cancer were 84%, 93%, and 91%, respectively. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in detecting intraductal spread or DCIS were 71.9%, 83.3%, and 76.0%, respectively, for 3D CT and 87.5%, 61.1%, and 78.0%, respectively, for 3D MRI. The sensitivity rate for microcalcifications was about 59%. [27, 32]


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