BreastScreen leading tomosynthesis screening study

Monday, October 19, 2020

Maroondah BreastScreen was the host site for the first feasibility study on the outcomes of tomosynthesis screening (a type of mammography that creates 3D images of the breast) in the Australian BreastScreen setting.

In collaboration with Professor Nehmat Houssami from the University of Sydney and BreastScreen Victoria, the results from this study were published in the Medical Journal of Australia in October 2019.

Maroondah BreastScreen’s Director and Chief Radiologist Dr Darren Lockie presented these results at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in July 2020.

The results from the study showed an increase in breast cancer detection for 3D clients compared to 2D mammography, however there was also an increase in recall to assessment and screen reading time.

Our preliminary findings could form the basis of large scale comparative evaluation of tomosynthesis and standard 2D mammography for breast screen in Australia.

This study has led to further funding from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to examine the clinical and cost effectiveness of tomosynthesis.

This second study is led by Professor Nehmat Houssami, School of Public Health, Sydney University in collaboration with Dr Darren Lockie and Maroondah BreastScreen’s Program Manager Michelle Clemson. 

There are a number of tomosynthesis projects being investigated as part of the MRFF grant and one of these research projects is being led by Maroondah BreastScreen.

The team at Maroondah BreastScreen will analyse and report on data collected during the screening trial of 10,000 clients at the service in 2017 and 2018, during which half of the group received 3D mammography and the other half received 2D mammography.

They will look at interval cancer data as well as breast density information.

“This funding will enable crucial analysis of our data and contribute important information towards the efficacy and cost effectiveness of 3D mammography, as well as provide the evidence base to inform government decision-making around breast screening,” said Dr Lockie.

“We will be evaluating the clinical effect, the accuracy and other outcomes such as biopsy rates, of using DBT instead of standard mammography in women at increased risk of breast cancer,” explained Professor Houssami.

“We want to collect new evidence in these groups, including from the Australian setting, to identify whether 3D may be more effective than standard imaging in any of these groups, and to provide this information to the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) to help guide policy decisions.”

The MRFF is a $20 billion long-term investment supporting Australian health and medical research.

It aims to transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability.


Health4Her is a collaborative project with Turning Point, Eastern Health and Vic Health to help our clients better understand their breast cancer risk factors.

Phase 1 of this study shows clients are unaware of their lifestyle risk factors, 87% of clients were unaware that their alcohol intake was a risk factor for increasing their chance of developing breast cancer.  

Furthermore, BreastScreen clients have indicated that they are very receptive to receiving lifestyle information at their BreastScreen appointments.

Phase 2 will pilot how to effectively deliver information about lifestyle risk factors relating to the development of breast cancer in the BreastScreen setting.