3D mammography allows you to scroll through multiple levels and see if a potential problem spot is regular tissue or, possibly, a tumor.
Since the 1960s, mammograms have been the best way to detect breast cancer early. Still, the technology has had its limitations. With 2D digital mammography, a potential trouble spot could appear as just that – a spot. If the radiologist sees a zone of density and can’t be sure what it is, the patient must return to get more images taken or undergo a biopsy.
If the radiologist could have looked beneath and above the spot, she could have seen whether the dense area is a harmless clump of breast tissue or a dangerous tumor. Now, she can, with 3D mammography.
3D mammography allows you to scroll through multiple levels and see if a potential problem spot is regular tissue or, possibly, a tumor. It also allows radiologists to find small tumors that could be hiding in denser areas of the breast. These areas appear as white spots on mammograms and can sometimes block our view of tumors, which can be disguised as white spots. 3D mammography gives us a view through the tissue, making it possible to catch something that would’ve been obscured.
How 3D Mammography Helps Women with Dense Breasts
A woman’s breasts are composed of several kinds of tissues, including fat, milk ducts, and supportive tissues. Different women have different amounts of each, and they change over time. A woman who has more dense tissue than fatty tissue is said to have “dense breasts.”
Having dense breasts is common – about four in 10 women have them. Traditional 2D mammography has limitations for women with dense breasts because dense tissue appears as white on its images. In 3D mammography, the radiologist can get a better idea of what these spots truly are by looking above and below them.
Why the Best Mammography Matters
Finding a small tumor in a regular screening mammogram is often a moment of profound fear. But seen at a further distance, it’s a victory. Finding a tumor when it’s small is the goal of screening and affords a person the best chances.
Evidence continues to show that 3D mammograms are better at finding cancer. An October 2018 study that tracked 15,000 women over five years found that 3D mammography detected 30 percent more cancers than traditional mammography.
To learn more about getting your mammogram or to schedule an appointment, call 866-366-PINK or visit ScheduleYourMammo.com. To further support community members through their breast cancer journey, register for AdventHealth’s first ever virtual Pink on Parade 5k at PinkOnParade.com.
DR. LEENA KAMAT is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist, subspecialized in breast imaging for AdventHealth Medical Group Radiology – Central Florida Division.
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