Common Questions About 3D Mammograms
April 18, 2018

We’ve spoken about the benefits of 3D mammograms before, and how they are revolutionizing medicine today. But for those of you not yet aware of all that 3D imaging has to offer, we thought we’d take this opportunity to share a few fast facts about this relatively new technology and why you should consider getting an annual screening mammogram in 3D mammogram.

A Few Common Questions About 3D Mammograms

Why Should I Get a Screening Mammogram?

Finding breast cancer early reduces your risk of dying from the disease by up to 30%.
When you come in for regular mammograms, the radiologist is able to find subtle changes from year to year. The goal is to find your cancer early, before you can feel it.

Women should begin having mammograms yearly at age 40 or earlier if they are at high risk. If you aren’t sure if you are at high risk, please ask your doctor or contact the High Risk Breast Clinic of Central Oregon. CORA is proud to be part of this multidisciplinary group aimed to help this group of women.

Why Is 3D Mammography Better Than the Prior 2D Technology?

They detect up to 41% more cancers than traditional methods. That’s because traditional two-dimensional mammograms only allow us to see one slice of information. 3D mammograms allow radiologists to see many slices through the breast tissue. This improves visibility of cancers that are trying to hide in your normal breast tissue.

They also reduce false positives up to 40% more than traditional methods. After your screening mammogram is reviewed by the radiologist, you may be requested to come back for additional imaging. Most of the time, this is a result of benign changes in the breast or overlapping normal tissue. However, with 3D imaging, we are able to call fewer patients back for this additional imaging.

You won’t notice much of a change at all with the new 3D technique. The machine is slightly different, although the process and your quick visit will be similar to what you are used to.

Why do You Have to Compress the Breast Tissue During my Mammogram?

We do this because it allows us to see better detail of your tissue and it actually lowers the radiation dose needed to get high quality images. It also holds the breast very still, so we get crisper images.

How Much Radiation is used During a Typical Mammogram?

On average the total dose for a typical mammogram with 2 views of each breast is about 0.4 millisieverts, or mSv (an mSv is a measure of radiation dose).

Mammography exams expose patients to negligible amounts of radiation. It’s among the lowest exposure level of any medical X-ray or CT exam.  To put the dose into perspective, people in the US are normally exposed to approximately 3 mSv of radiation each year just from their natural surroundings. This is called background radiation. The dose of radiation used for a screening mammogram of both breasts is about the same amount of radiation a woman would get from her natural surroundings over about 7 weeks.

Should I Begin Screening at 40 or 50 Years of Age?

Beginning screening at age 40 saves the most lives. The government recommendations by the USPTF also acknowledge this fact. 1 in 6 breast cancers we diagnose are in women in their 40s. Our goal is to diagnose these cancers as early as possible when it’s easily treatable.

Do I Need a Referral or a Prescription for my Screening Mammogram?

If you are over 40 years of age, you can schedule a 3D mammogram appointment without a referral. For more information about 3D digital mammograms near you, contact Central Oregon Radiology Associates or schedule your mammogram today.

For more information about 3D digital mammograms near you, contact Central Oregon Radiology Associates or schedule your mammogram today.