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The Benefits of a 3D Mammography Screening

With an estimated one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer, every family in the world has the potential to be impacted. The best way to survive breast cancer is to find it early when it is treated more easily. Screening mammograms are a woman’s best defense against breast cancer by detecting cancer at its earliest stage. Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by nearly 40% since 1990. 

A mammogram is a non-invasive low-dose X-ray that checks breasts for cancer and other abnormalities. It can detect cancer long before it can be felt. While mammograms are the best defense, not all mammograms are created equal. 3-D mammograms, like the new equipment in HNJH’s Radiology Department, takes multiple images, or X-rays, of breast tissue at different angles to create a 3-D picture of the breast. It is different from a 2-D mammogram in that 2-D mammograms obtain just a single image. The images that are taken during a 3-D mammogram give doctors a clearer picture of breast masses, making it easier to detect breast cancer. 

Additional benefits of a 3-D mammogram are:

  • Reduce the need for follow-up imaging. When doctors detect abnormalities on standard mammograms, they may recommend additional imaging. Having to come back for another appointment is not only stressful, but it can take extra time and cost. A 3-D mammogram reduces the need for follow-up imaging.

  • Improve breast cancer detection in dense breast tissue. A 3-D mammogram is better at detecting breast cancer because it creates multiple slices allowing visualization of dense breast tissue.

If you have never had a mammogram before, there are some things you can expect. You will be given a gown or robe and asked to remove any necklaces and clothing from the waist up. Helen Newberry Joy Hospital now has a private changing room just for mammogram patients with soft gowns to make the exam even more comfortable. You will also notice that the room has had a makeover creating a more calm and serene atmosphere for patients.  

For the procedure, you will stand in front of the mammogram machine. The technologist places one of your breasts on a platform and raises or lowers the platform to match your height. The technologist then helps you position your head, arms, and torso to allow for an unobstructed view of your breast. 

Your breast is gradually pressed against the platform by a plastic plate. The pressure is then applied for a few seconds to spread out the breast tissue. Next, the 3-D mammography machine will move above you from one side to the other as it collects images. The pressure on your breast is then released, and the machine is repositioned to take an image of the other side of your breast. Then, the process is repeated on the other breast. 

All images collected during the 3-D mammogram are synthesized by a computer to form a 3-D picture of your breast. These images are analyzed as a whole or in small fractions for greater detail. A radiologist interprets those images, looking for any abnormalities. If you are interested in scheduling your next mammogram at Helen Newberry Joy Hospital, call 293.9237.