Standard 2D mammography and, years later, 2D digital mammography, were technological breakthroughs in the effort to diagnose breast cancer early, when it is most easily treated. The latest advance in digital mammography screening is 3D mammography™ exams, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis.
The differences between 2D and 3D mammography™ exams are notable, especially for the estimated 47% of women with dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is closely-compacted, creating areas that can be nearly or completely invisible to radiation, making it difficult for 2D mammography to capture images of lesions, especially when they are small.
Dense breast tissue may also increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer because it is composed of more epithelial cells than fatty breast tissue, and epithelial cells are more commonly affected by cancer, making detection especially important. 2D digital mammography, which produces just a single image with each scan, can miss small cysts, tumors and cell changes in dense breast tissue.
In contrast, 3D mammography™ exams comprise a series of x-ray images that are sent to a computer for a nearly-3D composite that your RAO radiologist and doctor can review from various angles for easier discovery of abnormal cells and a potentially quicker diagnosis. Five independent clinical studies and new research reported in JAMA demonstrate that 3D mammography™ exams provide superior detection of invasive breast cancers and far fewer false positives than 2D mammography, meaning there is less chance of being called back and enduring subsequent tests. Women who have undergone the stress of being called back for additional breast scans can tell you the extra peace of mind is invaluable.
3D mammography™ exams are FDA-approved and performed in virtually the same way as 2D mammography, using the same level of compression and radiation exposure, and it takes about the same amount of time – provided clear images are captured during the first attempt, the screening takes only 5-10 minutes.
RAO and the American College of Radiology recommend annual screening mammograms for women 40 and older. If you have dense breasts, tested positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, have a family history of breast cancer, or have other reasons for preferring the enhanced accuracy of 3D mammography™ exams, you can make an appointment at RAO’s Women’s Imaging Center or TimberRidge Imaging Center without a doctor’s referral. To make an appointment and find out if your insurance covers tomosynthesis, call RAO at 352-671-4300.