When you receive a mammogram, you want to know that your results provide the clearest picture possible. No one wants to get the call that you need to go in for a second look–even if most callbacks do not result in cancer.

3D technology has many advantages over its standard counterparts. The speed and image quality are both much better than standard mammography. TMH radiology staff is excited about the high quality images it produces, and the added benefits of threedimensional technology.

Benefits of 3D

3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, has been found to catch aggressive cancers earlier over standard mammography. Research shows that 3D mammography in combination with standard digital mammography raised cancer detection rates over 40 percent. It has been described as a CAT scan of the breast as it takes several X-rays at different angles to create a 3D image.

3D mammograms have been found to generate less callbacks and false alarms than the standard version. According to the American Cancer Society, only 10% of callbacks result in cancer. Yet getting that call that you need to go in for a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy can be frightening. Suspicious findings are often non-cancerous tumors, cysts or dense breast tissue.

According to the National Cancer Institute, as women age, their breasts tend to get more fatty, producing less false-negative results. This is especially true after menopause when women’s hormone levels drop. 3D mammograms are good news for women with dense breast tissue because both dense tissue and cancer appear white on the image, making it harder for a radiologist to detect early cancer.

3D technology’s multiple angles help provide a more precise view, making the white images easier to break down and decipher. 3D mammograms are also helpful with fibrocystic breasts—a condition where breast tissue feels lumpy, thick and sometimes painful, especially right before or during a menstrual period. The Mayo Clinic states that half of all women experience some fibrocystic changes at least once in their lifetimes. As with dense breast tissue, fibrocystic lumps and bumps can skew results on standard mammograms—less so with 3D.

The advanced technology of TMH’s advanced machine also ensures that women receive the lowest dose of radiation possible.

Things to consider

Because 3D mammogram technology is new and not yet deemed the standard of care, insurance companies may not cover them. However, if you receive one at TMH you are only charged the cost beyond a regular mammogram, or $78. In some cases, Medicare will cover the extra cost. Many experts believe 3D technology is poised to become the standard of care for breast mammograms in the future.

Having an annual screening mammogram starting at age 40 used to be the standard recommendation of the past. While the US Preventive Services Task Force changed its recommendations to every two years after age 50, the American Cancer Society still recommends women begin screening at age 45. Remember, these are simply guidelines and making an individual decision with your doctor is the smartest course of action.