By Chad Harston, MD
Lexington Clinic Center for Breast Care


Research over the last 40 years has proven that yearly breast cancer screening with mammography saves thousands of lives. The goal of mammography is to find breast cancer as early as possible when it is most curable. With this in mind, Lexington Clinic now offers advanced mammography technology with higher sensitivity. This includes 3-D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, and contrast-enhanced mammography. These technologies allow a radiologist to detect breast cancers that may be hidden on a traditional mammogram.

Recent research shows that tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, finds more cancers in all women regardless of breast density.  3-D mammography takes a series of images while rotating around the breast, giving the radiologist the ability to examine virtual "slices" of the breast. This process makes cancers more visible by removing overlapping tissue that can obscure disease. Tomosynthesis has the added benefit of reducing false alarms due to shadows on a mammogram that do not represent cancer. Lexington Clinic is one of the few locations in Kentucky that offers 3-D mammography screening with the same low radiation dose as a traditional mammogram. At many other facilities the radiation dose is doubled.

Recently, it has become clear that women with dense breast tissue would benefit from a promising new test with even higher sensitivity for cancer called contrast-enhanced mammography. Lexington Clinic is the first in Central Kentucky to offer this new test. The sensitivity of contrast-enhanced mammography is similar to breast MRI, but at a fraction of the cost. Cancers that develop in women with dense breast tissue are more likely to be obscured by surrounding tissue. However, contrast-enhanced mammography can easily reveal hidden tumors even in women with the highest breast density by taking advantage of a unique characteristic of breast cancer: increased blood-flow.  After injecting a contrast material into an arm vein, several mammograms are obtained to see where the contrast accumulates in each breast.  Cancers will be highlighted by the contrast while normal fibroglandular tissue is dark.  Next to breast MRI, contrast-enhance mammography is the most sensitive imaging test for breast cancer and should be considered for all women with dense breast tissue, especially those with a family history of breast cancer.

Other women who may benefit from this test include those with breast implants and those with a personal history of breast cancer treated with breast-conserving therapy.

For more information about these advanced screenings or traditional mammograms or to schedule a screening exam, please call (859) 258-4444 or visit
Lexington Clinic Center for Breast Care - What is Breast Density?
Chad Harston, MD, Lexington Clinic Center for Breast Care
Chad Harston, MD is a fellowship-trained mammographer. He is board-certified in Radiology. Dr. Harston's professional interests, include radiology, breast imaging, breast cancer, disease of the breast and women's imaging.