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Q&A on 3D Tomosynthesis Mammography

Q. How Does 3D TOMO Mammography Work?

A. This advanced 3D imaging technology allows the radiologist to view your breast tissue layer by layer. Fine details are more visible within the 3D images and are less obscured by tissue above or below. Masses and distortions associated with cancers and precancerous cells are more clearly discernible with 3D tomosynthesis than with conventional mammography, regardless of breast type or density.

Q. Will My Mammography Exam be any Different?

A. The procedure for a 3D TOMO Mammogram is almost identical to a traditional 2D mammogram—our technologist will position you, compress your breast, and take images from different angles. No additional compression is required and no additional radiation is used.

A radiologist will then examine the images and report results to your Women First physician.

Q. What About Radiation?

A. A 3D mammography exam uses very low x-ray energy—about the same amount as a film screen mammogram. The total patient dose received during a 3D mammogram is well within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety standards for mammography.

Q. Who Should Have a 3D Mammogram?

A. Women First strongly recommends this technology to our patients with a family history of breast cancer, those who have dense breasts, those who have had breast augmentation, and other patients at higher than average risk for breast cancer.

Q. What about Women with Dense Breasts

A. For women with dense breasts, 3D mammography helps detect cancer earlier and more effectively than traditional mammography.

40% of women have dense breast tissue, which is comprised of less fat and more fibrous and connective tissue. Because this connective tissue appears more white (less translucent) on a mammogram, it can mask the appearance of cancer cells, which also appear white (or dense).

Because 3D mammography allows the radiologist to examine breast tissue layer by layer, it is easier to discern finer details in dense breasts that may occasionally be masked in a traditional 2D mammogram. Our technologists will let you know if your breast tissue is dense enough to benefit from 3D mammography.

Q. What about Women with a Higher Risk Assessment

A. Women First identifies patients with a known hereditary risk factor and uses a risk assessment module to calculate your breast cancer risk score. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Risk Model is based upon the Gail model and uses your personal medical and reproductive history, and the history of breast cancer among your first-degree relatives (mother, sisters, daughters), to estimate your potential risk of developing invasive breast cancer. Women First reviews each patient’s health history to calculate NCI breast cancer risk. Based upon your score, we may strongly recommend 3D mammography.

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