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3D Mammograms: Benefits and What to Expect

3D mammograms

At Green Valley OBGYN, we proudly provide breast health as one of our primary services. We work to have the latest technology to ensure our patients’ healthiest selves, and that includes offering 3D mammograms. Traditionally when screening for breast cancer, mammograms are performed in 2D. However, 3D mammograms provide more accurate data without any additional pain or compression. Learn more about why we recommend 3D mammograms over 2D mammograms and what to expect during your exam.  

Why Are Mammograms Important? 

A mammogram is an x-ray photograph of the breast. When it comes to preventative care, a mammogram is one of the top tools for detecting signs of breast cancer. This test has been a staple in the female healthcare industry for decades. 

Once a woman hits the age of 40, they should be screened annually via mammogram. Your doctor may recommend you start being screened earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer or are considered at high-risk. Mammograms are extremely important for preventative care and catching early signs of breast cancer among women. 

Difference Between 3D Mammograms vs. 2D Mammograms

Both 2D and 3D mammograms are a form of an x-ray, but 3D mammograms are an imaging test that combines multiple breast x-rays to create a three-dimensional photo of the breast. 2D mammograms only get an image of the front and side of a woman’s breast; therefore, the 3D imaging allows for a deeper examination. 

The procedure for both screening tests is the same, with no additional compression for the 3D; however, the 3D mammogram takes a few seconds more to complete. The 3D machine creates both 3D and regular 2D images from the traditional mammogram machine. Having both x-ray images readily available for observation is a huge advantage for early breast cancer detection.

What to Expect During A 3D Mammogram

When preparing for your mammogram, there are a few things to consider. Because the test involves compression and can cause some discomfort, try to schedule your appointment away from your menstrual cycle, so your breasts wont be tender. Also, do not use any lotions, deodorants, or perfumes on your breasts or under arms as the metallic particles in these products can disturb the x-ray imaging. Lastly, you will have to remove any clothing or jewelry from the waist up; therefore, avoid wearing dresses, rompers, bodysuits, or any one-piece article of clothing. 

During the screening test, your breasts are examined one at a time. Your technician will ensure you are in the correct position, so be sure to ask if you have any questions. They place one breast onto the platform of the 3D machine and then press down towards the platform with the plate above. Pressure is applied for only a few seconds; it is common to experience some discomfort but if there is severe pain, tell your technician immediately. The machine then moves above you to take the necessary x-ray images. Once it’s finished, the plate lifts to alleviate pressure, and the machine moves to take an additional picture from the side. 

Studies testing the accuracy of 3D mammograms have found that this machine detects 41% more invasive breast cancers than 2D mammograms. Having this technology is a massive advancement for women’s health. We are proud to be a practice that conveniently provides this test for our patients. Contact us to learn more or schedule a 3D mammogram with one of our trusted technicians.