Health Library

Why Choose 3D Mammography

woman 3d mammography with traditional mammogram

Main Article Content

Clearer Images Improve Breast Cancer Detection

When it comes to mammography options, the choice — and detection — is clear: 3D mammography improves breast cancer prevention for those who need it most.

All women should begin yearly mammogram screenings at age 40 and continue for as long as they’re in good health. For some women, certain factors increase the risk for developing breast cancer and additional screening measures may be necessary.

Some women carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which have been found to increase the risk for developing breast cancer. Those who have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer, have double the risk for developing the disease. And, women with dense breast tissue have a greater chance of developing breast cancer. For these women, traditional mammography done with 3D mammography has been proven to better prevent breast cancer.

Greater Accuracy for At-Risk Women

A recent study found that 3D mammography used in conjunction with traditional mammography detected 80 percent of cancer cases, while traditional mammography alone detected 59 percent. 3D mammography provides detection accuracy that traditional mammography alone can’t.

With 3D mammography, 3D images of the breast are produced from multiple angles using a digital scanner that rotates in an arc over the breast. This technology allows radiologists to move and enlarge images to better view any area of concern. When used with traditional mammography, this improves the detection of smaller breast cancers earlier and provides greater accuracy in distinguishing tumor size and location.

Because the image clarity of 3D mammography leads to more accurate breast cancer detection, these women are diagnosed with fewer false positives, and don’t experience the worry of follow-up tests and unnecessary biopsies. This improved detection can lead to greater peace of mind.

Your Mammogram

When planning your yearly mammogram, talk to your doctor to see if 3D mammography could be a valuable addition to your screening.

Regardless of which type of mammogram you pursue, prepare for your appointment with these tips:

  1. Wear a two-piece outfit since you’ll need to remove your top for the test.
  2. Avoid deodorant, perfume, powder, creams or lotions on your breast or under arm area. Residue from the products may interfere with mammogram results.
  3. Depending on the view of your breast to be taken, you will be asked to sit or stand. You may want to expect slight discomfort, but the procedure is not harmful and will not damage breast tissue.

Interested in hearing more from Northwestern Medicine? Sign up for the Healthy Tips E‑Newsletter for everything from health and wellness ideas to patient breakthroughs to academic and medical advancements.