Comparing 2D and 3D Mammograms

Mammogram Patient

Comparing 2D and 3D Mammograms

Thanks to advances in medical technology, doctors have more tools than ever before for the early detection and treatment of breast cancer, which can improve survival rates. Women who are planning to schedule a mammogram near San Antonio can ask the technologist whether the medical images center uses 3D technology for mammograms. As compared to 2D mammography, 3D mammography offers distinct advantages in terms of accurately detecting cancerous changes.



A mammogram uses X-ray technology to produce images of the breasts. With 2D mammography, the breasts are compressed and the X-ray arm takes the images. However, 2D mammography produces only flat images. In contrast, 3D mammography provides images of the breast tissue that enable a technologist to evaluate “slices” no thicker than one millimeter. The patient benefits because the same technological system is used for both 2D and 3D mammograms, enabling the technologist to take both types of images with only a few minutes added to the standard mammography appointment. The breasts do not need to be compressed for any additional time, which improves patient comfort.


Since 3D mammography takes multiple images in “slices,” the accuracy of the results are greatly improved. Unlike 2D images, which can overlap and give false positive results, 3D images reduce the risk of false positives. This decreases the need for unnecessary tests, such as ultrasounds and breast biopsies. In addition, this new technology increases the chances that cancerous changes will be detected.


Radiology technologists recommend 3D mammography for many patients, particularly those with dense breast tissue. Radiologists face additional challenges when trying to pinpoint potential tumors in dense breast tissue. This is because this dense tissue and the cancerous tumors both appear white on the images. The new 3D technology improves the clarity of images and it can enable radiology technologists to pinpoint the differences between tumors and dense breast tissue.


Women who undergo mammograms are often concerned about exposure to radiation. Although mammography does indeed involve some radiation exposure, most women will be exposed to about the same amount of radiation with 3D mammography as they would if they had only opted for 2D mammography.

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