A recent study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) demonstrated 3D mammography finds a 41 percent increase in the detection of invasive breast cancers and a 29 percent increase in the detection of all breast cancers as compared to conventional 2D mammography alone. The use of 3D mammography has also seen up to a 15 percent reduction in recall rates. This decrease in call backs is expected to reduce the number of patients needing additional imaging for possible mammographic changes on their screening exams.
"3D mammograms are appropriate for all women who need a standard mammogram regardless of age or breast type," said Dr. Arnold Honick, radiologist at RCI and medical director at UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Breast and Bone. "Although the benefit is greatest in women with a history of breast cancer or those with dense breast tissue, it has been found to be beneficial for all breast density types."
Watch this video to see how a 3D mammogram is performed:
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that 3D mammography is available in our community you may have some questions.
What is a 3D mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis) exam?
3D mammography is much like your annual mammogram but far more accurate in earlier breast cancer detection. 3D works by capturing multiple slices (images) of your breast from several angles. Then, a computer produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter slices. Our radiologists can review the data, one slice at a time, like turning pages in a book, making it easier for them to see if there is anything to be concerned about.
What are the benefits of 3D mammography?
With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all of the overlapped tissues of the breast in one flat 2D image. This can, in some instances, give the illusion of an abnormality even though the breast is normal, and can also mask an actual tumor due to superimposed breast structures.
By looking at the breast tissue in one millimeter slices, the radiologist can provide a more accurate assessment. 3D mammography provides a 25 percent improvement in overall cancer detection rates, finding 40 percent more invasive cancers than conventional mammography. It also means there is less chance of you being called back for a "second look" mammogram because of overlapped normal structures. The "false positive" rates are reduced by up to 40 percent.
What should I expect during the 3D mammography exam?
3D mammography complements the standard 2D exam 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 more radiation?
The FDA has found the combination of 3D and standard mammography to be safe and effective for patient use.
Who can have a 3D mammography exam?
It is approved for all women who would be undergoing a standard mammogram, for both screening and diagnostic exams.
What if I choose not to undergo a 3D mammogram?
A state of the art standard 2D mammogram will be performed.
Will my insurance cover 3D mammography?
Because 3D mammography is fairly new, insurance companies do not cover the additional charge for 3D mammography which is typically $40-$60.
When should you get a mammogram?
The American Cancer society recommends: Annual mammograms for women starting at age 40.
To learn more about 3D mammography, please talk with your physician.