Everything you need to know about 3D mammograms
Getting regular mammograms is your best bet for screening against breast cancer. Early detection is key for successful treatment: with early detection, the 5-year survival rate is almost 100%. And new technology means that your provider might be able to detect breast cancer sooner using 3D imaging. In fact, studies show that a 3D mammogram finds 20-56% more invasive breast cancers and more accurate exam results than 2D alone.
How does a 3D mammogram work?
While the words “3D” might bring red-blue glasses or VR headsets to mind, it’s more accurate to compare a 3D mammogram to a topographic map. 3D screenings take dozens—or even hundreds—of images in seconds. Your doctor can then see the breast tissue layer by layer in more detail and clarity, helping them make a more valuable assessment.
Benefits of 3D mammograms as compared to 2D mammograms:
- Reduces the risk of callbacks by up to 40%
- Superior accuracy for women with dense breasts
- Finds on average 41% more invasive breast cancers
- FDA approved and clinically proven to be more accurate
Myth: Mammograms expose you to dangerous amounts of radiation.
All mammograms–2D and 3D–are powered by x-rays and use radiation. But the amounts of radiation are at low levels and are not considered dangerous.
Myth: I only need a mammogram if I have symptoms of breast cancer, or a family history of breast cancer.
The American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging recommend that all women start getting annual screening mammograms at age 40.
Myth: Mammograms are painful.
New technology makes mammograms easier and faster than ever. You may feel slight discomfort but knowing what to expect can alleviate anxiety.
Myth: Insurance only covers 2D mammograms.
Any screening mammogram, including 3D, is generally 100% covered by insurance as a preventative measure. Check your individual policy as benefits and reimbursements vary.
What is a 3D mammogram like?
A 3D exam is the same process as a traditional 2D exam. You’ll be positioned and your breast will be compressed as your technician captures images from different angles. Expect the exam to take the same amount of time as a traditional exam, or only a few seconds more. And there’s no additional pressure required to capture a 3D image in comparison with a 2D mammogram.
What are some possible early warning signs of breast cancer?
- Swelling of all or part of a breast even if no lump is felt
- Skin dimpling, sometimes looking like an orange peel
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction
- Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking, or thickened
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or near the collar bone
When should I schedule my mammogram?
- If you’ve recently been vaccinated for COVID-19, consult with your provider to figure out the best timing for your mammogram.
- Due to sensitivity or discomfort, try not to schedule your mammogram the week before and the week of your period.
- On the day of, don’t wear deodorant or perfume. You’ll also want to wear a two-piece outfit so you can comfortably remove your top.