3D Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3D mammography)
Routine mammograms are the first step in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Research clearly shows they save lives. The smaller a tumor is at the time of detection, the greater the chance of survival. The American Cancer Society recommends women age 40 to 44 make an informed decision based on risk on annual mammograms, and recommends a yearly mammogram for all women ages 45 to 54. Women age 55 and older should make an informed decision on a yearly or every other year mammogram.
A 3D mammogram is the “gold standard” in breast imaging. It detects 27-53% more cancers in women than digital 2D mammography alone. 3D mammography reduces breast tissue overlap, revealing lesions that otherwise may have been missed and is particularly useful in women with dense breasts. Tomosynthesis is approved for all women, including those with implants.
The technologist begins a 3D exam by placing the patient’s breast onto the mammography unit and applying pressure to compress the breast. Pressure is needed to obtain a high quality exam that results in a precise diagnosis. The machine then moves in an arc around the breast, capturing images from nine different angles. These images are put together to form a 3D image of the breast that the radiologist views as a video, magnifying or stopping it as necessary. If the scan is normal, the examination is complete. If the radiologist sees a possible abnormality, the patient may be asked to return for an additional exam.
Tomosynthesis complements digital 2D mammography and is performed at the same time with the same system. Our GE tomosynthesis system uses the same amount of low-dose radiation to acquire 3D images as it does for a digital 2D mammogram. A 3D mammogram takes approximately 10 minutes.