Why physicians recommend 3-D mammograms

November 1, 2017, Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Dr. Marie Quinn reviewing images. Credit: Roswell Park Cancer Institute

For women over the age of 40, getting a yearly screening mammogram is an essential part of maintaining their breast health. While most mammograms are normal, occasionally a second screening will need to be performed. Getting a call from your physician asking you to come back in for additional tests can be nerve-racking for any issue, but especially so when it might be breast cancer.

Advancements in technology have improved screening quality while decreasing the need for additional images. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of tomosynthesis or 3-D screening mammography. Since then, multiple studies have found that 3-D screenings have reduced the need to recall patients for additional images up to 17 percent. "The 3-D mammogram is really proving itself to be a better mammogram in that it reduces the need for additional views and may reduce patients' anxiety," says Marie Quinn, MD, a Diagnostic Breast Imager at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "It's also a more sensitive mammogram for picking up small cancers."

Occasionally, the positioning of a woman's breast during her mammogram will cause the to overlap. When reviewing the images, that overlapping tissue can look similar to a mass within the breast. "With a 2-D screening, if there's a question of overlapping breast tissue, the patient will need to come back in for additional mammogram pictures. With the 3-D screening, instead of having to repeat images for overlapping tissue, we can often see it clearly on the first screening," says Dr. Quinn. "A 3-D mammogram allows us to scroll through a mammogram like flipping through the pages of a book. It also adds another layer of confidence that you can scan through the tissue and see that there is no underlying mass."

All mammography units at Roswell Park are equipped to perform 3-D screening mammography, with all being reviewed by physicians specializing in breast imagining.

For patients, a 3-D mammogram is very similar to a 2-D screening. "They look and feel similar, they have the same amount of compression of the breast," says Dr. Quinn. "The main difference is a 3-D scan has a slightly longer acquisition time to take images. 3-D takes about six to seven seconds per image as opposed to two to three seconds with a 2-D scan."

An essential goal of annual screening mammograms is detecting breast cancer early in its development. Studies have shown that 3-D screenings catch more early-stage invasive breast cancers than 2-D mammography alone. The five-year disease-free relative survival rate for invasive breast cancers that are caught early is 98 percent. That number goes down to 86 percent if found later as a stage II.

"Our goal is to pick up small, invasive cancers that are less than a centimeter and have not spread to the lymph nodes. 3-D screenings have helped us pick up these small invasive cancers that are still node negative—meaning the cancer hasn't spread to any lymph nodes—giving the patient the most treatment options," says Dr. Quinn.

For information on 3-D screening or to schedule your mammogram visit: roswellpark.org/womenshealth or call 1-877-275-7724.

Explore further: Breast cancer screenings still best for early detection

Related Stories

Breast cancer screenings still best for early detection

October 12, 2017
(HealthDay)—Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States, and routine screenings remain the most reliable way to detect the disease early, a breast cancer expert says.

Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?

June 22, 2017
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy ...

3-D imaging improves breast cancer screening

November 9, 2016
What if breast cancers could be found earlier, lumps seen more clearly or the number of callbacks reduced? Three-dimensional breast imaging technology can do just that by increasing the accuracy of breast cancer screening ...

Study finds 12-14 percent rate for mammogram patient callbacks increases cancer detection

February 7, 2017
Breast cancer detection increases significantly when radiologists recall mammogram patients for additional imaging more often than recommended by the current guidelines, according to a study by a radiologist at Rush. The ...

3-D mammography detects more invasive cancers and reduces call-back rates

June 24, 2014
Reporting in the June 25 issue of JAMA, researchers from Penn Medicine and other institutions found that 3D mammography—known as digital breast tomosynthesis— found significantly more invasive, or potentially lethal, ...

Novel breast screening technology increases diagnostic accuracy

November 20, 2012
The addition of three-dimensional breast imaging—a technology called tomosynthesis—to standard digital mammography significantly increases radiologists' diagnostic accuracy while reducing false positive recall rates, ...

Recommended for you

An under-the-radar immune cell shows potential in fight against cancer

February 23, 2018
One of the rarest of immune cells, unknown to scientists a decade ago, might prove to be a potent weapon in stopping cancer from spreading in the body, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Study tracks evolutionary transition to destructive cancer

February 23, 2018
Evolution describes how all living forms cope with challenges in their environment, as they struggle to persevere against formidable odds. Mutation and selective pressure—cornerstones of Darwin's theory—are the means ...

Lab-grown 'mini tumours' could personalise cancer treatment

February 23, 2018
Testing cancer drugs on miniature replicas of a patient's tumour could help doctors tailor treatment, according to new research.

Cancer risk associated with key epigenetic changes occurring through normal aging process

February 22, 2018
Some scientists have hypothesized that tumor-promoting changes in cells during cancer development—particularly an epigenetic change involving DNA methylation—arise from rogue cells escaping a natural cell deterioration ...

NEJM reports positive results for larotrectinib against TRK-fusion cancer

February 22, 2018
In 2013, the labs of University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator Robert C. Doebele, MD, PhD, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigator Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD reported in Nature Medicine the presence of TRK gene ...

Putting black skin cancer to sleep—for good

February 22, 2018
An international research team has succeeded in stopping the growth of malignant melanoma by reactivating a protective mechanism that prevents tumor cells from dividing. The team used chemical agents to block the enzymes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.