3D mammography is the newest technology for breast imaging that allows radiologists to view inside the breast layer by layer, helping to see the fine details more clearly to detect cancers earlier. During a 3D mammogram, multiple low-dose images known as “slices” of the breast are acquired at different angles.
Benefits of 3D Mammography
- Improved imaging to detect cancer at its earliest stage
- Fewer call backs for additional screening
- Greater Accuracy in pinpointing size, shape and location of abnormalities
- Greater Precision – enabling physicians to more easily detect abnormalities, including multiple breast tumors (occurring in 15% of breast cancer patients)
What to Expect at Your Mammogram
When You Arrive
Patients arriving for a mammogram at OSF St. Francis will check in at the front desk. Our friendly staff and volunteers will assist you with the registration process and direct you to the Medical Imaging department. You will be shown to a private mammography suite, given a gown and asked to remove neck jewelry and clothing from the waist up. Avoid wearing deodorant.
During the Mammogram
During the mammogram, you will stand in front of the mammography machine. Our trained technologist will place one of your breasts on a platform, raising or lowering the platform to match your height. She will help you position yourself to allow an unobstructed view of your breast.
Your breast will be gently and gradually pressed against the platform by a clear plastic plate. Pressure is applied for a few seconds to spread out the breast tissue. This is necessary to see as much of the breast tissue as possible. The pressure is not harmful, but may be uncomfortable.
If you have too much discomfort, tell the technician. Your breast must be compressed to even out its thickness and permit the X-rays to penetrate the breast tissue. The pressure also holds your breast still to decrease blurring from movement and minimizes the dose of radiation needed. You will be asked to stand still and hold your breath for a brief period.
After the Mammogram
Your images will be reviewed by a board-certified radiologist, and a report will be dictated and sent to your referring physician. Federal law requires that mammography results be sent to patients within 30 days, but patients at OSF may expect to receive their results much sooner.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take?
Compression time during a 3D exam is about 4 seconds longer than during a traditional 2D exam.
How much radiation will I be exposed to?
The level of radiation is slightly higher than that of a traditional 2D mammogram, but well below government safety standards.
Can anyone receive a 3D mammogram?
Yes. All patients may benefit from this new technology at OSF St. Francis. Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. 3D mammography allows physicians to see through breast tissue more easily and find abnormalities much sooner than with traditional 2D mammography.
Talk to your doctor about scheduling your mammogram at OSF.
How often should I receive a 3D mammogram?
The standard is the same as for traditional 2D mammography. Women are advised to talk to their OB/GYN or primary care physician regarding their health history and unique health care needs.
Early detection offers the greatest chance for finding curable breast cancers and the best chance for early detection is with 3D mammography.
If you have questions about your procedure – either prior to or afterward – please contact us at (906) 786-5707, x5345.