Healthcare Tips

Why Are 3D Mammograms So Important?

March 26, 2021

Most women understand by now the importance of yearly mammograms. The ability to detect breast cancer in earlier stages means a higher survival rate, and that alone is a cause for hope during an otherwise difficult prognosis. What some may not know, however, is that the new technology available with 3D mammography has an even better success rate in early detection, which is reason enough to choose this method for your next mammogram.

Mammograms matter

Hancock Health System is on the cutting edge of health, and this is no different when it comes to women’s health specifically. Women have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer, and because early detection is the single most important factor in keeping cancer localized as well as increasing the survival rate, mammograms matter. In fact, mammography detects most cancers in women without symptoms. So where does 3D mammography come into play?

3D Mammograms can see a clearer picture

According to Debbie Muegge, a lead mammographer with Hancock Health, 3D mammograms differ from the more traditional 2D imaging in significant ways. While a 2D mammogram takes a flat image of the breast tissue, a 3D machine is able to go a step further. During a 3D mammogram, while using the same machine, an X-ray arm passes over the breast tissue, taking multiple images in just a few seconds. For the technician, this means pictures of the breast in layers, providing a clearer picture of the breast as well as any abnormalities or growths. “You want to be able to see through the density; this is like being able to turn the pages of a book so you can see the layers,” says Muegge.

Breast density, it turns out, is an important factor in a woman’s risk for developing cancer. Density refers to having a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue and less fat. There are four categories of density: almost entirely fatty; scattered areas of fibroglandular density; heterogeneously dense; and extremely dense. Most women fall within the two middle categories, while roughly 10% of women have extremely dense breasts. On a mammogram, dense breasts will be whiter in color, which makes it difficult to detect abnormalities, as they also show up as being white. This is where 3D technology, with its ability to see the breast in multiple layers, becomes vital to early detection. If you are unsure whether you have dense breasts, ask. In addition, your mammogram report should tell you. However, 3D technology can benefit those with all breast types and sizes.

Along with earlier detection and the ability to capture the breast with multiple, clearer images, 3D mammography can help cut down unnecessary callbacks. Callbacks can cause unnecessary anxiety for a woman while she waits for answers or another appointment. Being able to have a more reliable immediate result using 3D technology makes a huge difference in ensuring peace of mind.

Women and breast cancer

While the five-year survival rate for breast cancer has increased to a whopping 98% because of the early detection found in mammography, occurrence is also on the rise. Women are being diagnosed with breast cancer at younger ages, despite no family history of the disease. If you are age 35 or older, it is imperative that you begin to get yearly exams. If you have a family history, you should start at an earlier age.

At Hancock Health System, we make it easy for women to stay on top of their breast health. Not only do we offer state-of-the-art 3D imaging that provides better results, we also work from multiple locations: James T Anderson, MD Center for Women’s Health and Parkway Imaging Center, both in Greenfield, as well as our two newest locations, McCordsville Imaging Center and Healthway Park in New Palestine. Scheduling can be done online through the patient portal or via the scheduling line at 317-468-4600. Put your breast health first and schedule your yearly mammogram today!