Getting a yearly 3D mammogram can grant you peace of mind, or it can detect early signs of breast cancer.
3D mammograms are growing in popularity due to their advanced detection and imaging options. Sanford Health recommends getting screened once per year, starting at age 40. Here are five reasons you should schedule a 3D mammogram.
1. Better visualization
3D mammograms are advanced breast cancer detection tools that give radiologists better visualization of the breast. 3D mammography is the most effective screening tool for diagnosing breast cancer.
This technology captures multiple images of the breast at different angles. This provides a clearer picture for radiologists to evaluate the tissue and provides doctors with more detailed views of your overall breast health. 3D mammograms help to pinpoint the size, shape and location of abnormalities better than ever before.
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2. Earlier detection
3D mammography can identify previously undetectable cancer earlier and reduce the need for additional follow-up tests.
“Getting annual mammograms starting at age 40 is the really the best option we have for finding abnormalities when they are small,” said Melinda Talley, M.D., a breast radiologist at Edith Sanford Breast Center. “It is also important to talk with your doctor to determine if you should begin screening before age 40.”
3. Better for dense breast tissue
It performs particularly well in women with dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue describes the ratio of fat to connective tissue and glands on the 3D mammogram. It only describes how the breasts look on a mammogram, not how they feel. Each woman’s breasts have fat, connective tissue as well as milk ducts and lobules that together are glandular tissue. Dense breasts have higher amounts of glandular and connective tissue and also lower amounts of fatty tissue.
Studies have shown that women with extremely dense breast tissue do have a higher risk for breast cancer than women with lower breast density. Experts are unsure why. However, the main concern with dense breast tissue is that it can make cancer more difficult to spot. Dense breast tissue appears white on a mammogram, just like cancer.
4. Tailored approach
Every woman who receives a 3D mammogram screening will also have her risk evaluated. Teams will talk to each patient about her family history and personal risk. If they learn that she may be at a higher risk, they work with her primary care physician to develop a personalized screening plan just for her.
Having a tailored approach to care ensures every woman gets the right breast health screening at the right time. And if any questionable areas do arise during the screening process, there are a number of diagnostic tools available. These include breast ultrasound, breast MRI and new contrast enhanced mammography. These help the radiologist better visualize the potentially cancerous areas.
5. Overall advantages
Digital technology offers several potential advantages over the current film method for mammography. Unlike film images, digital images:
- Can be stored and transferred electronically
- Are less likely to get lost
- Can be manipulated to correct for underexposure or overexposure. This may prevent the need for another mammogram.
- Allow radiologists to use software to help interpret or read them
- Have a large dynamic range that allows examination of all areas of the breast, despite varying densities
- Have a lower average radiation dose
Many of the mammography machines in use today are digital units, such as the 3D mammograms. The process of getting a digital mammogram is just like a regular mammogram. In fact, the only way you may know what type you get is to ask the technologist working with you.
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