Three-dimensional (3D) mammography (also called digital breast tomosynthesis, digital tomosynthesis or just tomosynthesis) creates a 3D picture of the breast using X-rays. The 3D picture is made up of several low-dose images from different angles around the breast. A conventional mammogram creates a two-dimensional (2D) image of the breast from two X-ray images of each breast.

Palmetto General Hospital uses the Genius™ 3D Mammography™, which allows doctors to examine the breasts layer by layer. So, instead of viewing all the complexities of breast tissue in a flat image, as with conventional 2D mammography, fine details are more visible and no longer hidden by the tissue above or below.

What Are the Benefits of 3D Mammography?

Numerous studies have found that 3D mammograms find more cancers than traditional 2D mammograms and also reduce the number of false positives.

A false positive is when a mammogram shows an abnormal area that looks like a cancer but turns out to be normal. Although it is good news in that there is no breast cancer, there are psychological, physical and economic costs that come with a false positive. Follow-ups can require more doctors, extra tests and procedures and possibly a biopsy.

3D mammography is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is a standard of care for breast cancer screening.

What to Expect During Your 3D Mammography Exam?

The process of a 3D mammography exam is the same as a conventional 2D exam. The technologist positions you, compresses your breast and takes several images from different angles. There’s no additional compression required with 3D mammography, and it only takes a few extra seconds. The technologist then views the images of your breasts at the computer workstation to ensure quality images have been captured for review. A radiologist then examines the images and reports results either directly to you or your physician.

Who Needs Breast Cancer Screening?

Many women with breast cancer have no symptoms, which makes screening even more important. The American College of Radiology recommends annual mammographic screenings beginning at age 40 for women at average risk (no personal or family history or genetic predisposition) for developing breast cancer.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

If you think you may have higher than average risk for breast cancer, please talk with your doctor about recommendations for screenings and frequency.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 888-620-1932 or visit