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 confident assessment. In this way, 3D mammography may find cancers missed with conventional 2D mammography.
Women who undergo routine mammograms at OSF Saint Francis Centers for Breast Health have access to the latest screening and diagnostic technology. OSF Saint Francis is the only breast center in Peoria to offer 3D mammography (also known as breast tomosynthesis) for breast cancer screening. 3D mammography helps radiologists identify and characterize individual breast structures without the confusion of overlapping tissue.
Breast cancer screening with 3D mammography, when combined with a conventional 2D mammography results in higher cancer detection rate than conventional 2D mammography alone. Radiologists are reporting that tomosynthesis technology gives them increased confidence with a significant reduction in recall rates.
You have an important decision to make before scheduling your next mammogram
Do you prefer a 3D mammogram? It is important that you get the facts you need in order to make the most informed decision. If you find that even one of the following four key components are true for you, then 3D may be the right option for you.
- This is your baseline mammogram
- You have a history of being called back for specialized images after your screening mammogram.
- You have dense breast tissue. (you can find out your breast density from your doctor - it was reported by the radiologist on your previous mammography report which was sent to your doctor)
- You have breast cancer risk factors that concern you. (discuss your risk factors with your physician)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a 3D mammography breast exam?
3D mammography is a new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection that can be done in conjunction with a traditional 2D digital mammogram. This oftentimes is referred to as breast tomosynthesis.
During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple breast images instead of one straight-down picture. Then, a computer produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter slices, providing greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail in a way never before possible. They can scroll through images of your entire breast like pages of a book.
Why is there a need for 3D mammograms?
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 confident assessment.1 In this way, 3D mammography may find cancers missed with conventional 2D mammography.
How does breast density or other risk factors play a part?
Breasts with a large proportion of fibrous and glandular tissue on a mammogram are classified as "dense". Regardless of size or shape, dense breasts have a substantially higher risk of developing breast cancer than women whose breast tissues are classified on a mammogram as "fatty". A women's breast density can change throughout life due to age, hormone levels and menopause. Dense breasts make it more difficult for doctors to spot cancer on mammograms. Both cancer and dense breast tissue appear white on the images. The 3D images may give radiologist a clearer view of this dense tissue.
If you learn that you have dense breast tissue , or that you have a moderate to high risk for breast cancer based on other risk factors as discussed with your primary care physician, then a 3D mammogram may be the right option for you.
What are the benefits?
The additional 3D images make it possible for a radiologist to gain a better understanding of your breast tissue during a screening or diagnostic mammogram and the confidence to reduce the need to call patients back for follow-up imaging.
What should I expect during the 3D mammography exam?
3D mammography complements standard 2D mammography 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 dose?
This new exam is a voluntary addition to a regular mammogram. It cannot be done by itself, but must be performed along with your regular 2D mammogram. Adding tomosynthesis increases the amount of radiation but is still well within the FDA regulated limit for mammography. If you have concerns about radiation exposure, please talk with your mammography technologist, radiologist or provider who can give you additional information.
Who can have a 3D mammography exam?
It is approved for all women who would be undergoing a standard mammogram, in both the screening and diagnostic settings.