A study looking at a new type of mammogram for breast cancer diagnosis

Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This study compared a type of mammogram called tomosynthesis with a standard mammogram to see if it is accurate in diagnosing breast cancer.  

More about this trial

Mammograms are used to screen for and diagnose breast cancer. But there can be problems with using them. For example, it can be difficult to tell the difference between what might be cancer and what isn’t. So some women have more tests to find out.  

Tomosynthesis (pronounced tom-oh-sin-ther-sis) is an advanced type of mammogram. It uses digital x-rays and a computer to put together a 3D picture of the breast.

Early research has shown that tomosynthesis should give a more accurate and detailed picture of the breast than the standard mammogram. This should then reduce the need for other tests to confirm a diagnosis of cancer.   

The aim of this study was to compare standard mammogram with tomosynthesis to find which was best for diagnosing breast cancer.

Summary of results

The team found that the accuracy of tomosynthesis was as good as the standard mammogram. 

322 women took part in this study. Because some women had more than 1 cancer in their breasts the team had 342 areas of cancer to look at. 

Each woman had a standard mammogram and tomosynthesis. They then had further tests such a sample of tissue taken (biopsy Open a glossary item) to confirm the diagnosis.

All the scans had the identity of the women removed before doctors who specialises in reading mammograms, radiologists, examined them. They examined each scan separately a few weeks apart. And gave a score of how likely the area was to be cancer. 

The team used these scores and the final diagnosis to compare the accuracy of standard mammogram to tomosynthesis. They found the accuracy to be very similar with:

  • just under 91% for the standard mammogram
  • just under 94% for tomosynthesis

They also asked the radiologists how useful they found tomosynthesis to be and why.

The radiologists said they found it useful in more than half (56.9%) of the cases. The reasons they gave was that it improved defining the outline of the cancer. And that it helped confirm when an area wasn’t cancer (a benign Open a glossary item area).

The study team concluded that tomosynthesis was as accurate as standard mammogram for breast cancer diagnosis. 

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Eleanor Cornford

Supported by

GE Medical
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

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