What is a 3D mammography breast exam?

3D mammography is a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection that can be done in conjunction with a traditional 2D digital mammogram.

During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple images. Then, a computer produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in thin slices, providing greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail like never before. They can scroll through images of your entire breast like pages of a book.

The additional 3D images make it possible for radiologists to gain a better understanding of your breast tissue during screening and reduce the need for follow-up imaging.

Why is there a need for tomosynthesis breast exams? What are the benefits?

With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all the complexities of your breast tissue in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion of normal breast tissue looking like an abnormal area.

By looking at the breast tissue in one millimeter slices, the radiologist can provide a more accurate assessment. In this way, 3D mammography finds cancer cells that conventional 2D mammograms might miss. It also means there is less chance that your doctor will call you back later for a “second look,” because now, your doctor can see the breast tissue more clearly the first time.

What is the difference between a screening and a diagnostic mammogram?

A screening mammogram is your annual mammogram that is performed every year. Sometimes, the radiologist may ask you to come back for follow-up testing. This is called a diagnostic mammogram, and it is used to rule out any unclear areas in the breast or to evaluate the area of a breast complaint.

What should I expect during the 3D mammography exam?

3D mammography complements standard 2D mammograms and is performed at the same time with the same system. There is no additional compression required, and it only takes a few seconds longer for each view.

Is there an increased radiation dose?

3D mammography has a slightly increased radiation dose compared to conventional 2D mammograms alone, but the benefits far outweigh the risks of a minimally increased radiation dose.

Who can have a 3D mammogram exams?

It is approved for all women undergoing a standard mammogram in both screening and diagnostic settings.