If you’re a woman who is 40 years or older, or younger with a high risk of breast cancer, then your doctor will likely refer you to an imaging center for a mammogram. Mammograms use X-ray technology to create images of the internal structures of the breasts for the purpose of identifying abnormalities that may indicate breast cancer. Mammograms have long been considered to be the gold standard of early breast cancer detection and in recent years the technology has undergone some updates. If you’ve been referred to an imaging center for a mammogram, consider looking for a provider that offers 3D mammograms near San Antonio.
Understanding the Technology
A radiologist can perform a 3D mammogram at the same appointment as a 2D mammogram. To produce 3D images, the X-ray arm sweeps over the breast to take images from multiple angles. This information is transmitted to a computer, which produces 3D images in one millimeter “slices.” These thin slices allow the radiologist to scrutinize the breast tissue at different depths and multiple angles. This technology is FDA-approved. It does involve a slightly higher dose of radiation than 2D mammography alone. However, the test only takes a few seconds longer than 2D mammography.
Improving Detection Rates
Although this technology is still new, it’s already being hailed as a major innovation in the fight against breast cancer . More studies are needed to allow healthcare providers to assess the long-term outcomes. However, the preliminary research indicates that 3D mammography improves the detection rates of breast cancer. This means that more women can get the cancer treatments they need as early as possible. Early breast cancer treatment is associated with a higher survival rate. It also lends itself to tissue-sparing cancer treatments. For instance, a woman may be able to have a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy.
Another advantage of 3D mammography is that it appears to reduce callback rates. A callback occurs when the radiologist identifies a suspicious area on the mammogram and needs to call the patient back for additional testing. Callbacks can be needlessly frightening for women and they can lead to invasive tests such as biopsies.