Screening mammograms are used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. The goal of screening mammograms is to find breast cancer early, before it has caused symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Early detection of breast cancer means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread, improving the chances that the cancer can be treated successfully.
3D vs. Standard 2D Mammography
Getting a high-quality screening mammogram and having a clinical breast exam are the most effective tools for early detection. When mammography was first developed, the image was recorded on film. Now, more often, the image is captured digitally and viewed on high resolution computer monitors. This is called a digital mammogram. In the United States, most mammograms are now digital.
While digital technology is still one of the most advanced technologies available today, it is only a 2-dimensional picture of the breast. The breast, however, is 3-dimensional, and composed of different structures such as blood vessels, milk ducts, fat, and ligaments. These structures are located at different heights within the breast and can overlap, causing confusion when viewed as a 2-dimensional, flat image. This confusion of overlapping tissue is a leading reason why small breast cancers may be missed and normal tissue may appear abnormal, leading to unnecessary call backs.
3D mammography is one of the most exciting new technologies in the fight against breast cancer. 3D mammography uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or slices – building what is essentially a 3-dimensional mammogram. This allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time.
A Multitude of Patient Benefits
A landmark study evaluating close to half a million mammography exams was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It revealed that 3D mammography significantly increases cancer detection. 3D images virtually eliminate tissue overlap, giving physicians the tools to accurately and confidently confirm a cancer diagnosis or dismiss a false positive, resulting in:
• greater accuracy and better likelihood of early detection;
• fewer unnecessary callbacks for false positives which reduces patient anxiety;
• fewer unnecessary biopsies.
Speak to your doctor about the latest screening guidelines and the benefits of 3D mammography, and make sure you obtain regular screenings. It could save your life!
Submitted by San Antonio Regional Hospital, See Ad on Page 3