Breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, is an imaging test that provides detailed, clear images of breast tissue to help doctors detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.
UPMC in Central Pa. is among the first in the region to offer 3D mammography, which is the most up-to-date method of breast cancer screening and diagnosis. A 3D mammogram will provide your doctor with detailed, clear images that can help to detect breast cancer early when it is most treatable.
If your mammogram leads to a breast cancer diagnosis, our nationally recognized breast care specialists can offer you the latest treatment options along with the compassion, support and holistic care you need.
3D mammography is a sensitive breast cancer imaging test that provides clear, detailed pictures to help your doctor detect breast cancer. As the name suggests, a 3D mammogram creates a three-dimensional picture of your breast using a series of x-ray image slices, similar to a CT scan.
Traditional mammography is two-dimensional, meaning that it only takes one top-to-bottom picture and one side-to-side picture of your breast. Traditional 2D mammography also compresses your breast, which can cause your breast tissue to overlap and make it more difficult for your doctors to see signs of cancer.
3D mammography provides a 3D image of your breast by taking multiple pictures from different angles, which can prevent false positives caused by overlapping or dense breast tissue. Studies on the effectiveness of 3D mammography have shown a 15 percent decrease in the number of women who are recalled for additional imaging tests due to false positive or unclear results.
Although a 3D mammogram takes a few seconds longer than a 2D mammogram, it provides the clarity and detail necessary to help doctors detect small cancers. Research shows that 3D mammography has resulted in a 41-percent increase the detection of invasive breast cancers and a 29-percent increase the detection of all breast cancers.
During 3D mammography, your breast will be compressed similar to a traditional 2D mammogram. A small amount of pressure will be applied to your breast so it remains still during the exam. The x-ray machine will take multiple images as it moves in an arc around your breast. The images will be sent to a computer, where they are put together to provide a 3D image of your breast.
You can return to your normal activities immediately following your 3D mammogram. Your doctor will review your 3D mammogram images and will contact you with your test results.
3D mammography may be right for you if you have dense breast tissue or if you are at high risk of developing breast cancer. If you would like to have a 3D mammogram, you should talk to your doctor to find out if 3D mammography is the best option for you.
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