3D mammography can work for you

The American College of Radiology has stated that 3D mammography has been shown to improve key screening parameters as compared to digital screening and increase breast cancer detection rate significantly.

What it is:

Unlike the older mammography units, which only scan the breast form the top down and from the side, the 3D mammogram images the breast from several different “layers.”

How it works:

During the 3D portion of the exam, the machine moves at an arc and produces very thin images of layers of the breast. This allows the interpreting physician to view the breast tissue one layer at a time, instead of just two images of the breast that is used with conventional mammography. This is very beneficial to younger woman with dense breasts.

Other benefits of 3D mammograms include:

• Reduction of false positive rates by 15 percent

• A 40 percent decrease in call backs, which means less worry, anxiety and cost for patients.

• Detection of up to 40 percent more invasive cancers

• Earlier detection of breast cancers

The examination process is very similar and patients will not notice much of a difference than the previous routine mammogram, except that the tube will move during part of the exam. The amount of time is about the same and the increase in the amount of radiation during the exam is minimal and well below the FDA standards.  A 3D mammography also reduces the number of times the patient may have to return for additional views, which reduces the exposure as well.

Many patients state that now the 3D mammography exam is more comfortable, and the compression does not seem as uncomfortable.

The 2D digital method is still good, but the new 3D mammogram unit offers a significantly better tool to diagnose breast cancer. Insurance companies are getting on board and more companies are paying for the 3D portion of the mammogram, but it is advised that the patient check with their insurance regarding their coverage.

For any questions regarding mammography and to schedule an appointment locally at CHI St. Francis Health, call 218-643-0238.


Merlin Granfor, RT, Director of Imaging CHI St. Francis Health


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