Living Well: Due for a mammogram? 3D mammography offers several benefits |

Living Well: Due for a mammogram? 3D mammography offers several benefits

Memorial Regional Health staff/For Craig Press

When you receive a mammogram, you want to know your results provide the clearest picture possible. No one wants to get the call that they need to return for a second look — even though most callbacks do not result in a cancer diagnosis.

3D technology has many advantages over its standard counterparts. The speed and image quality are both much better than traditional mammography. Memorial Regional Health switched to digital breast tomosynthesis in 2016 to better serve its female patients.

3D mammography has been found to catch aggressive cancers earlier as compared to standard mammography. Research shows 3D mammography raised cancer detection rates more than 40 percent, according to a study by Emory University. It has been described as a CAT scan of the breast, as it takes several X-rays at different angles to create a 3D image.

3D mammograms have been found to generate fewer callbacks and false alarms than the standard version. According to the American Cancer Society, only 10 percent of callbacks result in a cancer diagnosis. Yet, receiving that call that you need to go in for a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy can be frightening. Suspicious findings are often non-cancerous tumors, cysts or dense breast tissue.

According to the National Cancer Institute, as women age, their breasts tend to become more fatty, producing fewer false-negative results. This is especially true after menopause, when women’s hormone levels drop.

3D mammograms are good news for women with dense breast tissue, because both dense tissue and cancer appear white on the image, making it more difficult for a radiologist to detect early cancer. 3D technology’s multiple angles help provide a more precise view, making the white images easier to break down and decipher.

3D mammograms are also helpful with fibrocystic breasts — a condition in which breast tissue feels lumpy, thick and sometimes painful, especially just before or during a menstrual period. The Mayo Clinic states that half of all women experience some fibrocystic changes at least once in their lifetimes. As with dense breast tissue, fibrocystic lumps and bumps can skew results on standard mammograms — less so with 3D.

The advanced technology of MRH’s advanced machine also ensures women receive the lowest dose of radiation possible.

Things to consider

Today, 3D mammogram technology is becoming more commonplace and is expected to be deemed the standard of care. Until that officially happens, insurance companies may not cover them. However, if you receive one at MRH, you are only charged the cost beyond a regular mammogram. Medicare will cover the extra cost.

Having an annual screening mammogram beginning at age 40 was the standard recommendation of the past. While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has changed its recommendations to every two years after age 50, the American Cancer Society still recommends women begin screening at age 45.

Remember, these are simply guidelines, and making an individual decision with your doctor is the smartest course of action.

To schedule a mammogram at Memorial Regional Health, call 970-626-3150 or have your primary care provider fax an order to 970-826-3159.


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