A mammogram is the best tool physicians have to find cancer, and it is critical to accurate and speedy treatment if cancer is detected.

Traditional digital mammography produces a two-dimensional view of the breast and is an effective means of diagnosing breast abnormalities. However, in recent years, technology has advanced, and breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography, is the latest diagnostic tool that can give physicians a three-dimensional view of breast tissue.

Originally only available at the CAMC Breast Center, 3-D mammography is now also available at the CAMC Imaging Center at Southridge.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this technology at more locations,” said Barb Ream, manager of CAMC Imaging at Southridge. “This modality enables improved detection of breast cancer with better visualization of the breast tissue, as well as fewer call-backs and false alarms.”

For a 3-D mammogram, the breast is positioned and compressed in the same way as a conventional mammogram, but the X-ray tube moves in a circular arc around the breast producing thin images at varying angles. The technology converts the digital breast images into a compilation of thin layers to build a three-dimensional view of the breast. Unlike the two-dimensional images produced from digital mammograms, 3-D mammography enables doctors to see breast tissue one layer at a time, making it easier to pinpoint abnormalities.

3-D mammography can be used as a screening tool in conjunction with a traditional (2-D) digital mammogram or may be used by itself for a diagnostic mammogram.

Almost all patients who need screening or diagnostic breast imaging can have a 3-D mammogram. The more detailed imaging can be especially helpful for women with dense breast tissue, breast implants, and those with family history of or increased risk for breast cancer.

Insurance coverage may vary so women who are interested in 3-D mammography should check with their provider before making an appointment. To schedule an appointment, call (304) 388-9677.

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