Mammography Gains a New Dimension

Since its introduction in 1969, a mammogram has become a vital tool in the fight against breast cancer. Nowadays, an estimated 37 million mammograms are performed annually in the United States.

Like most other medical diagnostic procedures, mammography continues to reap benefits from technological advancements. The most recent advancement occurred in 2011 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of digital breast tomosynthesis, otherwise known as 3D mammography.

How does it work?

3D mammography is done in conjunction with traditional 2D digital mammography. During the 3D portion of the procedure, an X-ray arm sweeps in an arc over the breast, taking images of the breast from multiple angles in just seconds. A computer then produces a 3D rendering of the breast tissues in one-millimeter slices. This picture allows radiologists to see tissues in greater detail, something that should allow for fewer false-positive tests and reduce the need to recall women for additional exams or biopsies.

While it uses low dose X-rays, the radiation associated with 3D mammography is slightly higher than the standard digital procedure. That said, some estimates conclude that digital mammography may miss up to 20 percent of tumors, which provides another reason why 3D mammography is becoming a more relied-upon screening method. Women with dense breast tissue can benefit from 3D mammography, as well as those who are at higher risk or have had breast cancer.

Be sure to discuss your breast cancer screening options with your primary care provider at Little Company of Mary. Call 708.499.8550 or go to to schedule your screening mammogram today.

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