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Everything You Need to Know About 3D Mammography

Oct 27, 2020 | Women's Health

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to highlight the importance of early detection. Here at Greenville OB/GYN, we’re proud to offer 3D mammography as part of our complete healthcare services. This advanced procedure creates multiple images from different angles and makes it easier to spot abnormalities through dense tissue. 

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 275,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women in the U.S. in 2020. More than 42,000 breast cancer deaths are projected. Early detection is vital because it expands the available treatment options and leads to higher survival rates. 3D mammography represents another step forward in spotting and successfully treating this deadly disease.

The Advantages of 3D Mammography

Traditional 2D mammograms take two X-ray images of the breast, with one from the top and one from the side. 3D mammography is an imaging process that involves moving in an arc over the breast. A radiologist can review more than 200 images with a 3D mammogram, compared to only four from a 2D scan. This makes it easier to look for breast cancer in patients who have no signs or symptoms.

Another advantage of 3D mammography is that it can reduce the chances of being called back for additional testing. Overlapping or dense tissue can make 2D images difficult to analyze, leading to follow-up scans. Having to come back for more testing leads to extra cost, time, and unwarranted stress. With a three-dimensional view, potential issues are more visible. Radiologists can analyze the 3D image as a whole, compare it with standard 2D mammogram images, and zoom in on specific areas. It’s a more efficient and effective procedure for everyone involved.

In terms of accuracy, mammograms have a strong overall track record. Traditional 2D mammography identifies about 87 percent of women who actually have breast cancer. The addition of three-dimensional images can take this impressive number even higher. Studies have shown that combining 3D and standard mammograms can result in about one more cancer diagnosis for every 1,000 women screened.

What to Expect From Your 3D Mammogram

The 3D mammogram procedure isn’t much different from a traditional scan. Each breast is positioned and compressed just as in a 2D mammogram, although the pressure is applied for a few seconds longer in a 3D mammogram so that the machine can collect images from all angles. This pressure isn’t harmful but may be a bit uncomfortable. Tell the technician if you feel any pain. 

Like a traditional 2D mammogram, the entire 3D mammogram procedure takes only about 20 minutes. If you’ve had 2D scans in the past, it’s likely that you won’t notice any difference when you have a 3D version. 

3D mammography is a real breakthrough in the early detection and successful treatment of breast cancer.  We’re excited to offer this cutting-edge service to our Greenville OB/GYN patients. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your 3D mammogram, and be sure to visit our website for more information on breast health.

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