Your first mammogram: What to expect
Women 40 years old and older should begin annual mammograms to help detect breast cancer. Now many health care providers are offering 3-D mammography. But what is 3-D mammography? How is it different from traditional mammography?
To answer these questions and more, we spoke with Basak Dogan, M.D. , associate professor of diagnostic radiology and medical director of the Ben and Julie Rogers Breast Diagnostic Clinic.
What is 3-D mammography?
3-D mammography is an FDA-approved advanced technology that takes multiple images, or X-rays, of breast tissue to recreate a 3-D picture of the breast. You may also hear it called breast tomosynthesis. It’s different from traditional mammography In that traditional mammography obtains just a single image. Images from both technologies are read on a computer.
These multiple images of breast tissue slices give doctors a clearer image of breast masses. It makes it easier to detect breast cancer.
Who should get a 3-D mammogram and why?
Any woman who needs breast screening should consider 3-D mammography. Women with dense breast tissue in particular may benefit because it provides a clearer picture. Using 3-D mammography makes it easier for doctors to catch breast cancer early. It also helps us catch more cancers. And it helps us see the cancer size much better than we could on a regular mammogram. It reduces the chances of doctors seeing a false positive.
At MD Anderson, we discuss the benefits of 3-D mammograms with women and allow them to decide if they want to do it. All of our screening mammography equipment has 3-D mammography capability. Because 3-D mammograms may not be covered by all insurance plans, contact your insurance provider before your appointment.
What are the risks associated with having a 3-D mammogram?
A 3-D mammogram releases the same amount of radiation as a traditional mammogram. It is of no greater risk to the patient.
What can women expect?
Women notice little difference between 3-D mammography and traditional screenings. The tube taking the X-ray sweeps across the breast in an arch. It takes about four seconds to obtain an image, just a little bit longer than a digital mammogram.
3-D mammography produces more images, so it does take radiologists a little longer to read than a single digital mammography image, but the original procedure is much the same.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 877-632-6789.