3D Mammography Provides the Best in Breast Imaging
By Chantelle Turner
Nov 4, 2016
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
Life is busy and as women, we’re juggling a lot of responsibilities. All too often, our own health falls to the bottom of the “to do” list and is not a top priority. Utah women continue to rank among the lowest in the nation for getting their annual screening mammogram.
While some women say they don’t have enough time, others are fearful of what the results will be. But a screening mammogram is still the most effective way to find breast cancer early — when it’s the most treatable.
3D mammography, or breast tomosynthesis, is a relatively new breast imaging procedure that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration five years ago. This technology captures layered images of the breast from several angles. Similar to turning pages in a book, physicians are then able to use these layered images to examine the breast tissue more accurately – one layer at a time.
"It improves our ability to catch cancer early," explains Seth Cardall, a radiologist at Utah Valley Hospital. "It also reduces the chances of people having to come back in to get a second screening."
As Dr. Cardall suggests, the accuracy of 3D mammograms often eliminates the need for a second screening appointment, something that can save women the worry and hassle associated with a false positive screening.
Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer, and 3D mammograms detect cancerous tissues earlier than any other procedure. Research has shown 3D mammography detects 41 percent more of invasive breast cancers, which are usually those that have spread outside of the milk duct into surrounding, healthy tissue. It makes the fine details more visible, helping the physician make a more accurate diagnosis and reducing the number of additional tests or biopsies needed.
All women who should be undergoing a standard mammogram are also eligible for a 3D mammogram. If you’re 40 or older, you should have one every year. Those worried about increased risk (exposure to radiation, etc.) will be happy to know the x-ray dose, compression, and overall patient experience of a 3D mammogram is similar to that of the traditional 2D.
While 3D mammography can be used for routine screening mammography, research suggests that it may be particularly effective for women with dense breast tissue. Clinical studies have shown, however, that all women can benefit from 3D mammography – regardless of age and breast type or density.