Early breast cancer detection with digital 3D mammography saves lives
No one wakes up in the morning, excited for their mammogram. Oftentimes, we do things in life because it’s good for us, not because we want to, but thankfully, the benefits of Genius 3D mammography far outweighs its inconvenience. One appointment during your day has the potential to save your life. Digital 3D mammograms are the most effective screening method for breast cancer, and early detection can increase the chance of your survival.
Life-saving cancer screening | A Georgia HEART success story
What is 3D mammography?
Genius 3D mammography is an advanced imaging technology system that moves in an arc around the breast to take low-dose X-ray pictures from many angles in seconds. A computer then reconstructs those images into thin cross-sections, or slices, of each breast making it easier to see layers of breast tissue, allowing for better early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.
What’s the difference between 3D mammography and regular, 2D mammograms?
Digital 3D mammography exam results are more accurate than 2D alone, detecting 20% to 65% more invasive breast cancers. A 3D mammogram can be especially helpful in detecting cancer in women with dense breasts — defined as breasts made up of more glandular and fibrous connective tissues than fatty tissues – but women of all ages and breast densities still benefit from 3D mammography accuracy.
What can I expect during a 3D mammogram?
Having a digital 3D mammogram is essentially the same experience as having a conventional 2D mammogram. It requires no additional breast compression, and it takes just a few seconds longer to complete. In general, digital mammograms are non-invasive, painless exams. They involve a very low dose of radiation, the benefits of which far outweigh any potential risks.
What if I don’t want a 3D mammogram?
2D mammograms are also still an option and available at all our breast imaging and diagnostic locations.
How can I schedule a digital 3D mammogram?
If you’re ready to schedule a mammogram, contact your physician’s office. If you already have a physician’s order for a mammogram, call to schedule your appointment at one of our below breast imaging and diagnostic locations.
Women ages 40 and over should have a Screening Mammogram annually (once per year) (see guidelines by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. Your doctor may recommend a slightly different routine- be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
If you have breast pain, nipple discharge, discover a lump or change in the breast, or have any other abnormalities of the breast, your doctor may request that you have a diagnostic mammogram. If you have no new problems that you are aware of with either breast and you are over 40 years of age, then you should have a routine screening mammogram. If you do have any problems with either breast, it is very important that you discuss that with your physician before your mammogram appointment.
Women should begin having yearly mammograms at the age of 40. If you are at high risk of breast cancer or have a family history of breast cancer, it is recommended to being annual screenings earlier than at age 40.
A screening mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast that is performed for women with no symptoms and no new changes to the breast since their last mammogram. It is usually performed with two images of each breast, one from top-to-bottom (craniocaudal), and one from side-to-side (mediolateral oblique). Sometimes more images will have to be taken in an effort to obtain clear, adequate pictures and to ensure that all breast tissue is included in the picture.
After your screening mammogram is performed, you can dress — there is no need to wait after the exam. Your exam will be read by a board-certified radiologist (a doctor that specializes in interpreting X-rays), a report will be typed and you will receive a letter in the mail with your results. Your doctor will also receive a copy of your report. Occasionally, the radiologist will request that you return for more pictures to clarify any questions they may have. This can be for a number of reasons including motion, the need for more compression, or clarification of a finding or change in the breast.
A diagnostic mammogram is performed to determine the cause of a problem. Often this is for breast pain, nipple discharge, to clarify a finding in a screening mammogram, or a lump or change felt in the breast by either your doctor or during your breast self exam. The number of pictures of each breast will vary for a diagnostic mammogram depending on your symptoms. After a diagnostic mammogram, you will wait while the technologist shows your films to the radiologist. The radiologist may request more images or a breast ultrasound, or may confirm that no more pictures are needed. You will learn the results of these tests before you leave our facility.* Your doctor will receive a copy of the report.
*Results are preliminary. Specific hours are reserved for diagnostic mammograms.
A mammogram uses a low-dose X-ray beam to produce an image of the breast. At the Breast Care Center, we use digital mammography, providing a faster experience. There is no film involved so images show up on the computer screen immediately. You will face the X-ray machine and the technologist will position your breast on the machine.
The technologist will then lower a plastic plate onto the top of the breast until the breast is adequately compressed. Everyone tolerates the exam differently; while compression can be uncomfortable, compression is a very important part of getting a clear image for the radiologist to read. You should always communicate with your technologist to let them know how you're feeling or if you are unable to tolerate the compression. The entire exam usually lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes with only a few seconds of compression for each breast. It is very important that you do not wear deodorant or powder on the day of your exam. If you forget, your technologist will provide you with wipes to clean the deodorant or powder off of your skin.
Breast compression is necessary in order to:
- Even out the breast so that all of the tissue can be visualized
- Spread out the breast tissue so that small abnormalities won't be covered up by normal tissue
- Allow the use of a lower X-ray dose, since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged
- Hold the breast still in order to eliminate blurring of the image caused by motion
- Reduce X-ray scatter to increase sharpness of the picture
Your exam was normal or benign (not cancer). It is recommended that you return to your routine annual mammogram schedule. However, if at any time you develop any changes in either breast, please check with your doctor.
Additional images required (call-back)
If you need additional images after your initial screening mammogram, you will be alerted by the Breast Care Center or your physician's office to return for more imaging. You will also receive a letter from us describing the results of that test. The need for additional images does not necessarily mean that there is a serious problem, but it should not be ignored.
Further testing needed
After a diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound, we'll let you know if additional testing is required.
We'll let you know when it's time to schedule your next annual screening mammogram. If you've already made your appointment then you can disregard this letter and we will see you then! Otherwise, first obtain an order from your doctor then schedule your mammogram.
This letter describes an area in your breast that is probably benign but should be followed up within three to six months, just to be sure. A short-interval follow-up does not necessarily mean that there is a serious problem, but it should not be ignored.
You should get your results within 30 days. If the X-ray picks up any abnormalities, you may be told to get another mammogram or other form of testing.
Yes. Like an X-ray, mammograms produce only a tiny amount of radiation exposure.
Every woman experiences the mammogram procedure differently. Some women report feeling discomfort or small amounts of pain during the procedure, particularly during the X-ray portion. However, the X-ray procedure only takes a couple of minutes to complete. After the mammogram, most report that they don’t experience lingering pain, but it is possible to feel sore or tender for the rest of the day.