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5 Reasons to Choose 3D Mammography for Your Next (or First) Mammogram

5 Reasons to Choose 3D Mammography for Your Next (or First) Mammogram

Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) is proud to be leading the way for breast cancer awareness in Southwest Wyoming. Paint the Town Pink events bring breast cancer awareness to the community to highlight the importance of screening and let the community know about local resources, such as MHSC’s leading-edge 3D mammography unit.

“MHSC has been instrumental in heightening breast cancer awareness and the need for screening mammograms for several years now,” said Director of Medical Imaging Tracie Soller. “Screenings are essential in the detection of any cancer. When we can identify cancer early, it’s much easier to treat.”

More than 280,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the United States. Mammograms are one of the best ways to spot and stop cancer before it spreads.

Here are five reasons 3D mammography may be the best option for your next mammogram.

1. 3D Mammography Works for Breasts of all Shapes, Sizes, and Densities

Every breast has fat and fibrous tissue that creates the shape of the breast and glandular tissue related to producing breast milk. A breast with a higher amount of fibrous and glandular tissue compared to the amount of fat has “dense breast tissue.” Though dense breast tissue is common, it can be difficult to see through on traditional 2D mammograms, making it challenging to detect potential breast cancer. 3D mammography digital imaging technology was designed to get a clearer image of dense breast tissue.

However, you don’t need to have dense breast tissue to benefit from 3D mammography.

“3D mammography has been found to be beneficial for all patients regardless of breast density,” Soller said. “It’s now considered the gold standard and is recommended for everyone getting a mammogram.”

2. Clear Images With Less Compression

“Please don’t let the horror stories some women tell dissuade you from having your first screening,” Soller said. “Our patients report that exams performed on our 3D mammography equipment are more comfortable than the ones they had with the prior 2D equipment.”

Older 2D mammography equipment flattened the breast between hard surfaces, which often led to pinching or uncomfortable, uneven compression. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through that anymore.

MHSC’s 3D mammography unit features a curved, breast-shaped design that supports the breast better and provides even pressure. There is still some compression, but it’s specifically designed to keep you as comfortable as possible during the process.

3. More Pictures Means More Information

2D mammograms take an image of the breast from two angles by positioning the X-ray equipment on each side of the breast and above and below the breast.

The 3D mammography machine moves in an arc around the breast, taking multiple images at multiple angles. Each image shows a small slice of the breast. With digital imaging technology, these slices are combined to create a 3D image of the breast.

Having several images to look at gives the radiologist a lot more information about the breast. It also makes it much easier to see any abnormal areas. 3D mammography also makes it easier to see tiny abnormalities 2D mammograms can miss, leading to early detection of breast cancer.

4. 3D Mammography May Save You Time and Worry

There are many reasons you may get called back after a mammogram. Fewer than 10% of people who get called in to do more testing are found to have cancer. Still, the time between getting a call back and getting the final answer can feel very long and cause significant stress and worry. Because 3D mammograms take multiple images and produce clearer information for the radiologist the first time, you are less likely to get called back.

Getting a false-negative or false-positive result with a 3D mammogram is still possible, but the chance is much lower. A false-negative is when no abnormal areas are seen, but breast cancer is there. A false-positive shows an abnormal area that is not cancerous. Younger women, women with dense breast tissue, and women who take estrogen are more likely to have a false-positive result.

“3D mammography reduces the number of patients who would need to be called back for further evaluation of an abnormality by 40% as compared to 2D mammography. It saves many women from needing to schedule a follow-up or a biopsy because the 3D can rule out cancer,” Soller said. “3D also detects 20% to 65% more breast cancers than 2D. They have also been able to identify breast cancer more readily in patients with extremely dense breast tissue.”

5. Leading-Edge Care Close to Home

3D mammography is an emerging field. Many women who live in rural areas or smaller cities and towns have to drive quite a distance to get a 3D mammogram. MHSC is thrilled to offer this advanced technology close to home.

Women ages 40 to 45 who are at average risk for breast cancer should talk with their provider about when to start getting mammograms. The American College of Radiology recommends annual mammograms starting at the age of 40.

If you are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer, your provider may recommend more frequent cancer screenings to help detect breast cancer early. Risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Prior radiation therapy to the breast or chest

Having a risk factor for breast cancer does not mean you will develop cancer. Many women with several risk factors never have cancer, and some women with no risk factors do develop cancer.

A 3D mammogram can help your radiologist detect breast cancer early, regardless of your risk. And early detection typically leads to better outcomes.

Ask your Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County provider about making an appointment for a 3D mammogram.