Three-dimensional or 3D Mammography is one of the latest technologies used to screen for breast cancer. Mercy offers 3D mammography in many of its imaging centers, but it is important to understand what 3D mammography is and who will benefit most from this technology.
You may notice very little difference between a 3D mammogram and a standard screening (2D) mammogram. A 3D mammogram takes only a few seconds longer than a regular mammogram. During both scans, the breast is compressed between two plates to obtain the images.
However, during a 3D mammogram, the scan takes a series of X-rays of the breast from different angles. The computer then digitally recreates the breast, and radiologists can view “slices” of the image one at a time, making it easier to see and evaluate possible abnormalities.
Women with dense breast tissue will benefit most. Dense breast tissue means a woman has more glandular tissue compared to fatty tissue in the breast. On a mammogram, glandular tissue and cancer both appear white, making it hard to differentiate between the two.
With a 3D monogram, a radiologist can uses the image slices to better differentiate a cancer from glandular tissue. This leads to better cancer detection and fewer callbacks for additional testing.
Mercy doctors recommend that all women age 40 and older have an annual mammogram, regardless of whether its 2D or 3D. Your doctor can help you decide which scan is best for you.