Low dose 3D mammography is the latest in breast cancer screening technology. In the past several years, experts have made monumental advances in screening options. While the traditional 2D digital mammography continues to be an effective way to screen for breast cancer, new FDA-approved 3D technology, called breast tomosynthesis, is revolutionizing the screening process.
3D mammography captures multiple images at different angles, providing doctors with exceptionally sharp views of the breast. 3D mammography helps:
- Reduce additional tests
- Detect small breast cancers earlier
- Pinpoint size, shape and location of abnormalities
- Increase likelihood of detecting multiple breast tumors
To learn more, talk to your doctor about 3D mammography.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the tissue inside the breast. It involves two or more x-rays of each breast.
How often is a mammogram recommended?
Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram each year.
Why is a yearly screening mammogram important?
A screening mammogram looks for changes in the breast that are not normal. It is a good way to find cancer when it is small and easy to treat. Regular mammograms have reduced the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 70.
What is a diagnostic mammogram?
A diagnostic mammogram takes more views to get more information about any changes found on the screening mammogram or changes felt by you or your provider. Depending on your facility, you may learn the results of a diagnostic mammogram before you leave. Other facilities may have your primary care provider contact you.
Is it safe?
Yes, mammograms are safe. Mammogram machines use very low levels of radiation. Having yearly mammograms starting at age 40 does not greatly increase the risk of breast cancer.
How do I prepare?
· Try to make your appointment the week after your period. Your breasts may be less tender at this time.
· Do not wear any perfume, lotion, powder or deodorant under your arms or on your breasts. This may show up on your x-rays.
· If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, please tell the technologist before the x-ray starts.
How is a mammogram done?
You will need to undress from the waist up. We will give you a robe or a gown to wear. The technologist will position you in front of the mammogram machine and place your breast on a small platform. Your breast will be compressed by a plastic plate for a few seconds. Each breast is compressed separately. Breast compression is needed to:
· Even the tissue thickness, to get a clear picture of the breast
· Use the lowest dose of radiation
· Avoid motion that would blur the picture
Usually, two to three pictures are taken of each breast. They will include a top view, a side view, and the area in front of your armpit.
What can I expect afterward?
· Compression does not damage the breast. If you feel some mild aching from the compression, take buffered aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
· You may notice a slight change in skin color of one or both breasts. This change is temporary and will go away in a few days.
How long does it take?
The mammogram will take 20-30 minutes.
How will I find the results?
A radiologist who has special training in reading mammograms will look at the pictures from your mammogram and interpret the results. The results will be sent to your doctor. You will receive a letter, phone call or notice in MySanfordChart about the results of your mammogram.
What does it mean if I need to come back for more views or testing?
Sometimes the doctor can better see an area by looking at it from another angle so we will ask you to come back in for more pictures. About 5-10 percent of all women need more pictures taken after their screening mammogram.
How much do mammograms cost?
Mammograms are often covered by insurance or Medicare. There are state and federally funded programs in many areas that offer free or reduced cost mammograms to women with low incomes.
How do I know I am getting a quality mammogram?
Mammography facilities are required to be accredited by the American College of Radiology. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certifies that mammography facilities meet strict quality standards by doing an inspection every year.