3D Mammography Offers New Level of Detection & Peace of Mind - Ascension Wisconsin

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Published on February 16, 2015

3D Mammography Offers New Level of Detection & Peace of Mind

Every year more than 200,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer. But when detected early, the rate of survival is high and mammograms continue to be the best tool for screening women for breast cancer.

Mammogram technology is evolving to allow physicians to spot and detect cancer at its earliest stages. Just a few years ago, mammograms using X-ray film were the norm. That was replaced by 2D digital and now 3D digital mammograms have become available. 3D mammography (also called tomosynthesis) provides images of the breast in extremely thin “slices”, whereas 2D mammograms (whether digital or film) give the radiologist one single image.

“Patients will notice that their mammogram experience does not change significantly when they receive a 3D mammogram,” says Dr. Kate Hallenbeck, a radiologist working with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.  “But, from my perspective, the 3D mammograms offer increased visibility and a much higher level of detail, which helps find cancer earlier than it may show up on the 2D mammogram.”

Just as importantly, women who undergo screening with 3D mammography are 15 percent less likely to be called back for more testing due to a suspicious finding that turns out not to be cancer. This is called the “non-cancerous recall rate,” which when lower means fewer false alarms.

2D screening mammograms are covered by most healthcare insurance and will be covered by all under the Affordable Care Act. As insurance coverage currently varies for 3D mammography, women are encouraged to check with their insurance provider prior to scheduling to see whether or not they are fully covered, or whether an out of pocket fee will apply.

“Regardless of whether you chose 2D or 3D mammography, the important thing is to have the screening done,” says Dr. Hallenbeck. “It truly saves lives.”

Schedule a Mammogram

All Saints: 262-687-2600
Elmbrook Memorial: 414-527-5000
Franklin: 414-527-5000
St. Francis: 414-527-5000
St. Joseph: 414-527-5000
Wauwatosa Outpatient Center: 414-527-5000

3D Mammography Offers New Level of Detection & Peace of Mind