By Parin Bhayani, MD, Mammography Radiologist at Riverview Health
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, all women should begin yearly mammograms at age 40. Clinical breast exams should start even earlier at age 20. It’s important to keep up with these health screenings, as early detection is vital when it comes to any cancers. With 3D mammography, advanced technology is making early detection for breast cancer even more possible. Parin Bhayani, MD, mammography radiologist at Riverview Health, explains.
What is 3D mammography?
In addition to the routine 2D mammogram views, 3D mammogram acquires thin slices through the breast, which we can scroll through. So instead of just a single 2D view, we can now look at multiple slices that cut through the breast tissue and therefore increase the sensitivity/specificity of mammography.
What are the benefits of 3D mammography?
The benefits are two-fold. We’re detecting more cancers that may be hidden/masked by normal dense breast tissue. In theory, this would mean we’re finding the cancers earlier in their development—usually before they become palpable. The second benefit is that it reduces false-positive results and also reduces the number of biopsies that need to be performed.
Does 3D mammography help to better screen breasts that are denser?
Multi-institutional trials have demonstrated that the benefits of 3D mammograms apply to all women regardless of breast density and size. However, anecdotally I believe women with denser breasts benefit more. A small cancer can easily hide within normal looking breast tissue, so it’s harder to detect it in denser breasts. With 3D imaging, we eliminate the overlap of the normal breast tissue and can unmask a cancer in these dense breasts.
Who reads the 3D scans?
Radiologists are the only doctors who interpret these exams. In order to be qualified to interpret 3D mammograms, the radiologist has to take a special training course and become certified.
Are there any drawbacks to 3D mammography?
The radiation from 3D mammography is higher than 2D. That being said, the overall radiation dose from mammograms is extremely low and the benefits far outweigh the risks involved.
Will insurance cover a 3D mammogram?
Currently, not all insurance companies cover this technology. However, I believe that will change soon.
To learn more about mammograms and other imaging tests, call Riverview Health Women’s Center at 317.776.7133.