What is a 3D mammography breast exam?
Tomosynthesis, also called 3D mammography, is a revolutionary screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection that can be done in conjunction with a traditional 2D digital mammogram.
During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple breast images. 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 not possible with 2D mammograms. They can scroll through images of your entire breast like pages of a book.
The additional 3D images make it possible for a radiologist to gain a better understanding of your breast tissue during screening and the confidence to reduce the need for follow-up imaging.
What are the benefits of a 3D mammogram?
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 finds cancers missed with conventional 2D mammography. It also means there is less chance your doctor will call you back later for a “second look,” because now they can see breast tissue more clearly.
3D tomography allows doctors to detect more breast cancers than traditional mammograms. In addition, this technology has found 40 percent more breast cancers and has reduced the number of false positives.
Will I notice the difference between a 2D and 3D mammogram?
As far as your experience, they are not different. The difference is seen from the doctors' perspective because the technology provides them with a more detailed view. 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.