Back to Top Skip to main content

New 3-D mammogram option the next step in diagnosis, treatment

Chief Hospital Corpsman Naomi Perez, a certified mammogram technician (left), conducts a mammogram for a patient at Naval Hospital Pensacola. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray procedure used to detect the early stages of breast cancer. A policy change effective Jan. 1, 2020, will allow digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, to be used to screen for breast cancer. The procedure – known technically as Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) – will be offered primarily to women age 40 and older, and women age 30 and older who are considered high-risk for breast cancer.  The procedure’s 3-D images provide a more thorough means of detecting the disease. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brannon Deugan) Chief Hospital Corpsman Naomi Perez, a certified mammogram technician (left), conducts a mammogram for a patient at Naval Hospital Pensacola. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray procedure used to detect the early stages of breast cancer. A policy change effective Jan. 1, 2020, will allow digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, to be used to screen for breast cancer. The procedure – known technically as Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) – will be offered primarily to women age 40 and older, and women age 30 and older who are considered high-risk for breast cancer. The procedure’s 3-D images provide a more thorough means of detecting the disease. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brannon Deugan)

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Women's Health

After nearly a year’s effort, a policy change effective Jan. 1, 2020, will allow digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, to be used to screen for breast cancer. While the procedure may not be offered at all military treatment facilities, the expanded benefit will be available as a screening and diagnostic tool for beneficiaries with TRICARE coverage.

The procedure – known technically as digital breast tomosynthesis or DBT – will be offered to primarily women age 40 and older, and women age 30 and older who are considered high-risk for breast cancer. Practitioners can offer DBT to other patients should a diagnosis determine the presence of a risk factor

The procedure’s three-dimensional images provide a more thorough means of detecting the disease – particularly in patients with dense breast tissue. The digital breast tomosynthesis technique is similar to that of a CT (computed tomography) scan. The source of the CT X-ray repeatedly sweeps over the breast at spaced intervals. The final imagery offers a cross section of “slices,” or adjacent segments, of tissue.

"Mammography is the gold standard in detecting breast cancer, and the DHA is pleased to bring this advanced form of imaging to our patients," said Dr. Paul Cordts, chief medical officer for the Defense Health Agency. "We know how important it is to our patients to have access to the latest technology to improve their health outcomes. Digital breast tomosynthesis allows for earlier detection and diagnosis of smaller cancers and, if discovered early, it opens up more options to treat it quickly while in a nascent stage, with improved outcomes and potentially less side effects."

According to Amber Butterfield of TRICARE’s Medical Benefits Reimbursement office in Aurora, Colorado, the expanded benefit for breast cancer screenings is allowed through provisional coverage authorized by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffrey. Provisional coverage is a special authority that allows extension of coverage for items that are undergoing evaluation or have beneficial effects not yet proven.

Between 2016 and 2018, roughly 80,000 TRICARE beneficiaries were diagnosed with either malignant abnormal growths of the breast, called carcinomas, or pre-cancerous cells, called neoplasms. To address this, leaders at the DHA were determined to find a way to expand breast cancer screenings using the DBT technology, while adhering to congressional requirements as they pertain to provisional authority.

“By regulation, TRICARE follows guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for preventive services,” Dr. James Black, medical director of the Clinical Support Division at DHA, said. “This includes the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which gives recommendations on provisional preventive services.”

Although the task force has yet to recommend DBT for cancer screening, the decision by DHA leadership to expand DBT to annual cancer screenings was made a year ago. Since the USPSTF does not currently recommend DBT as a more effective screening tool than 2-D mammography, the DHA had to find a way to offer coverage under current statutes that govern what health services TRICARE can provide beneficiaries.

Black cited the efforts of retired Navy Vice Adm. Raquel C. Bono, the former DHA director, along with subject-matter experts from the services, who provided guidance that led to the provisional adaptation of DBT coverage.

Their focus included which commercial insurance carriers cover DBT and other coverage criteria. From there, DHA’s medical benefits and reimbursement section put together a provisional coverage determination and submitted it to the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs – who, by law, is the approval authority for any such changes. The coverage determination was approved in September and coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2020.

Although the task force has yet to recommend 3-D breast DBT for cancer screening, DHA leadership is confident that within the five years DBT has been approved on provisional authority, the USPTF will obtain enough research to reach a firm recommendation.

Beneficiaries who have questions about DBT services offered in locations convenient to them should contact their TRICARE provider or regional customer service call center.

You also may be interested in...

MHS Minute February 2020

Video
2/25/2020
MHS Minute February 2020

Thanks for tuning in to the MHS Minute! This month, we highlight a historical moment in #MilitaryHealth history, as Defense Health Agency (DHA) established the first four health care markets in the military medical enterprise. We also take a look at the Military Health System (MHS) response to Novel Coronavirus -- learn more about what Madigan Army Medical Center is doing to combat the threat of illness by going to mamc.health.mil.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | TRICARE Health Program | Coronavirus

MHS Minute January 2020

Video
1/21/2020
MHS Minute January 2020

Thanks for tuning in to the *NEW* MHS Minute! Check back each month to learn about more exciting events and achievements by organizations and partners across the Military Health System!

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | TRICARE Health Program

DS Logon

Video
8/15/2019
DHA Seal

This video describes the various portals you can access through your DS Logon account

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) Program Office | MHS GENESIS

TRICARE Preventive Services

Video
1/14/2019
TRICARE Preventive Services

Watch this video to learn more about all the preventive services your TRICARE benefit covers.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Preventive Health

Military Midwives Advance Medicine

Video
10/23/2018
Military Midwives Advance Medicine

Military midwives assist in advancing military medicine. Capt. Brittany Hannigan uses educational opportunities to bring evidence-based practices to the patient's bedside.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Military midwives as educators

Video
10/15/2018
Military midwives as educators

Within the military, midwives serve as educators. Kwuan Paruchabutr shares how midwives ensure that all medical staff are well trained in women's health care.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Military Midwives in Leadership Roles

Video
10/5/2018
Military Midwives in Leadership Roles

The duties of certified nurse midwives go far beyond the labor delivery room. Cmdr. Kim Shaughnessy explains how midwives hold leadership positions across the Military Health System and how they help shape women's health policy.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Midwives in the Military

Video
10/3/2018
Midwives in the Military

Military midwives are key in the Department of Defense's priority of medical readiness. Army Lt. Col. Danielle Molinar shares ways midwives keep female soldiers ready to deploy.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

TRICARE Open Season 2018

Video
9/19/2018
TRICARE Open Season 2018

TRICARE is establishing an open enrollment season. Watch this video to learn more about what this means for your TRICARE benefit.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

Retiring from active duty 2018

Video
9/10/2018
Retiring from active duty 2018

Watch this video to learn more about your TRICARE options when you retire from active duty

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

TRICARE Changes Urgent Care

Video
4/3/2018
TRICARE Changes Urgent Care

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

TRICARE Changes: Are you ready? #TakeCommand

Video
12/8/2017
TRICARE Changes: Are you ready? #TakeCommand

This video spot describes the changes that are coming in 2018.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

TRICARE Changes: New Regions #TakeCommand

Video
12/8/2017
TRICARE Changes: New Regions #TakeCommand

This video spot describes how the three TRICARE regions are changing to two.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

TRICARE Changes: New Provider Directories #TakeCommand

Video
12/7/2017
TRICARE Changes: New Provider Directories #TakeCommand

To find a network providers in your region visit: TRICARE East- https://www.tricare-east.com TRICARE West- https://www.tricare-west-com

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

All of the Updates - TRICARE Changes

Video
11/3/2017
Doctor and patient talking in an exam room.

All of the updates to the new health care system

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.