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3D Mammography (Digital Breast Tomosynthesis)

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.

Screening for breast cancer

Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. Mammography has been the gold standard screening examination for the early detection of breast cancer. Since the development of standard mammography, there have been major advances in the technology. 

The breast is a 3-dimensional object composed of different structures, such as blood vessels, milk ducts, fat and ligaments. All of these structures, which are located at different levels within the breast, can overlap and cause uncertainty when viewed as a 2-dimensional, flat image. The uncertainty of overlapping tissue is a leading reason why small breast cancers may be missed and normal tissue may appear abnormal, leading to unnecessary call-backs.

What is Digital Breast 3D Mammography?

Digital Breast Tomosynthesis is a new technology in the fight against breast cancer, which allows doctors to examine your breast tissue one layer at a time. During 3D mammography, multiple low-dose images or "slices" of the breast are taken at different angles. With this new technology, the radiologist can view a mammogram in a way never before possible.

3D mammography uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or "slices" building what is essentially a "3D mammogram". Fine details of the breast are more clearly visible and no longer hidden by overlapping tissue.

Am I a candidate for 3D Mammography?

Health care providers believe that all patients benefit from this new technology. However, the best candidates for 3D mammography are those with dense breast tissue and/or a strong family history of breast cancer. Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. 3D mammography has been shown in clinical studies to be more accurate than digital mammography alone by detecting cancers earlier.

What should I expect from 3D Mammography?

3D mammography is very similar to a traditional mammogram. Just as with a traditional digital mammogram, the technologist will position you, compress your breast under a paddle and take images from different angles. Positioning is the same as a standard 2D mammogram. The exposure time will be longer by just a few seconds, depending on the density of your breasts. Although 3D mammography takes a few seconds longer, there is no additional compression.

Do I get more radiation with 3D Mammography?

At Finley Hospital, we have brand new state-of-the-art technology capable of producing the 3D and 2D image with one tomosynthesis sweep. This produces an x-ray exposure similar to one standard 2D mammogram. The FDA has found the combination of 3D and standard mammography to be safe and effective for patient use. 

What if I choose not to undergo a 3D mammogram?

A state-of-the-art standard 2D mammogram will be performed.

American Cancer Society Guidelines for Annual Breast Screening

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly screening mammograms starting at age 40 and annually until the age of 75; after age 75 based on health status.


Once you have a doctor's referral for a mammogram, call the Central Scheduling office at (563) 557-2787 to schedule an appointment or stop in during our Walk-in Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.