At the simplest level, a mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast. When it comes to capturing that image for doctors to check for breast cancer, women may now have the option to receive a 3D mammogram instead of the conventional 2D imaging technology. 

Traditional Mammogram vs. 3D Mammogram
With a traditional mammogram, two images of the breast are captured—one side-to-side view and one top-to-bottom. A 3D mammogram, or breast tomosynthesis, is capable of producing more detailed images of breast tissue by creating internal 3D renderings that allow doctors to more clearly identify lumps, tumors or other abnormalities that may require additional testing. By producing more detailed images, it makes pinpointing problems much more precise and improves early detection. Many women with breast cancer don’t show any symptoms, so it’s important to be proactive about regular screenings—early detection saves lives. 

How It Works
For both procedures, the process is the same. You’ll be positioned in front of the mammography machine by a technologist with your breast held in place by two compression plates. You’ll be asked to hold still while the machine captures multiple X-ray images. Your radiologist will use these images to look for signs of breast cancer at its earliest stage when it is most treatable. 

The ability to get a crystal-clear 3D reconstruction of the breast can lead to fewer false-positive and false-negative readings, which will ultimately make the screening process more efficient and reliable for women. The new technology is especially helpful for examining women with dense breast tissue and those at a higher risk for developing breast cancer.

The American College of Radiology recommends annual mammographic screening beginning at age 40 for women of average risk. Higher-risk women should start mammographic screening earlier and may benefit from supplemental screening modalities.

Getting regular mammograms is the most important way to be proactive about your breast health. 

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How do I prepare for the test?

You should avoid using deodorant, powder, creams, lotions or perfumes on the underarms or breasts on the day of your mammogram because they can show up on x-rays and look very much like cancer when they do.

What happens when the test is performed?

The procedure will feel the same as a traditional mammogram, but your doctor will be able to see a lot more using this new technology. You will be asked to undress from the waist up. For most patients, 2 pictures will be taken of each breast – one from the side and one from the top. Before each picture is taken, your breast will be pressed briefly between 2 flat plates so that the breast tissue is spread out. This part of the mammogram is uncomfortable, but it does not last long and it is necessary in order for the x-ray to show a clear view of all areas of the breast.

How long is it before the result of the test is known?
Results are not immediate. You will receive a letter with your results from our Mammography Department.
If there is anything we can do to make you more comfortable while in the Radiology Department, please do not hesitate to ask.
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Convenient locations offering 3D Mammography: 

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