3D Digital Mammography
Screening for breast cancer
Doctors and scientists agree that early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. If we find cancer in its earliest stage , the chances of surviving are good. Until now, the best way to do that has been with digital mammography.
Digital mammography uses a specially designed digital camera and a computer to produce an image that is displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor.
While digital mammography is still one of the most advanced technologies available today, it is only a two-dimensional picture of the breast. Since the breast is composed of pockets of dense tissue surrounded by fat, when x-rayed, it creates an image that looks something like a smoky haze. The overlapping tissue in the image makes it difficult to see tiny “spots”,called microcalcifications,and other subtle signs of early cancer.
In some cases, the radiologist may ask you to come back for a follow-up examination such as a diagnostic mammogram to rule out any suspicious areas.
A new screening tool
For decades doctors have been searching for a technology to help them find very small cancers and also reduce the
number of women who are called back for additional mammographic views. Scientists have developed a new technology called 3D mammography or breast tomosynthesis, which has been shown in clinical studies to be superior to digital mammography. 1, 2
3D mammography/ Breast tomosynthesis is a new technology in the fight against breast cancer. Breast tomosynthesis may be used in conjunction with traditional digital mammography as part of your annual screening mammogram to analyze the breast tissue one layer at a time. Low X-ray energy
is used during the screening examination so your radiation exposure is safely below the American
College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines. Using breast tomosynthesis and digital mammography together for
screening has been proven to reduce “call-backs”.1, 2
Breast tomosynthesis may also be used for a diagnostic
mammogram if you happen to be called back for this type of exam.
1. Data on file at Hologic
2. Clinical studies presented to the FDA compared breast tomosynthesis to standard mammography.
What is breast tomosynthesis?
Breast tomosynthesis uses a computer algorithm to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thinly layered
mammographic images — building what is essentially a “3-dimensional mammogram”.
During the tomosynthesis part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple
breast images in just seconds. A computer then produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in one thin layer at a
time. Now the radiologist can see breast tissue detail in a way never before possible. Instead of viewing all the
complexities of your breast tissue in a flat image, the doctor can examine the tissue in a thin layer and also an
image at a time. Fine details are more clearly visible, no longer hidden by the tissue above and below.
In a “conventional” 2D mammogram there may appear to be an area of concern that the doctor may want to
further investigate with another mammogram. Looking at the same breast tissue in 3D “breast tomosynthesis”
images, the doctor can now see if the tissue is in fact normal breast tissue that was overlapping on the traditional
mammogram creating the illusion of an abnormal area. With breast tomosynthesis, the patient may likely avoid
What to expect during your exam
A breast tomosynthesis exam is very similar to a traditional mammogram. Just as with a digital mammogram, the technologist will position you, compress your breast under a paddle and take images from different angles. A breast tomosynthesis exam may be used as a screening tool in conjunction with a traditional digital mammogram or may be used for a diagnostic mammogram.
During the tomosynthesis portion of the exam, your breast will be under compression while the x-ray arm of the mammography machine makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of breast images at a number of angles. This will only take a few seconds and all of the images are viewed by the technologist at their computer workstation to ensure they have captured adequate images for review by a radiologist.
The whole procedure time should be approximately the same as that of a digital mammogram. The technologist
sends your breast images electronically to the radiologist, who studies them and reports results to either your
physician or directly to you.
If you are interested in breast tomosynthesis 3-D Mammography, please ask the receptionist during your check in process. If you have any additional questions regarding tomosynthesis, please call 585-442-2190