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What you need to know about 3-D mammography

Women's Health

Q. What is digital breast tomosynthesis, and why should I consider it?

A. Digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, has the ability to image overlapping normal, dense breast tissue. Clinical data suggest that digital mammography with tomosynthesis produces a better image, improved accuracy and lower patient recall rates compared with 2-D mammography alone.

Q. Who can have breast tomosynthesis?

A. Currently, 3-D mammography is available as a screening tool to supplement 2-D digital mammography. It may be of particular benefit to women who have dense breast tissue, a strong family history of breast cancer or an increased predisposition for breast cancer.

Q. Does my insurance cover it?

A. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, 3-D mammography may be a covered benefit under Medicare. Payment for this service will be made if it is an annual screening or if you have a high-risk screening diagnosis. Also as of Jan. 1, Medicare coinsurance and deductible do not apply with bilateral digital breast tomosynthesis. That means you should not incur an out-of-pocket cost if you have Medicare. Castle Medical Center cannot guarantee that your insurance will cover it—but we will work with our payers to see if they will begin to cover this important service.

Q. Why am I being asked to sign an agreement of financial responsibility?

A. Before Jan. 1, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had not ruled on coverage of digital breast tomosynthesis. As a provider, we bill for services rendered to all patients, not just Medicare patients. Because it is unclear whether your insurance carrier will pay for this service, we are obligated to inform you that you could be responsible for the balance.

Q. I’m on a fixed income. Are there any other options for me?

A. Yes. If you have been diagnosed with dense breast tissue or you have been deemed “high-risk” by a qualified radiologist, you may want to talk with your primary doctor or gynecologist about MRI or ultrasound as an additional screening tool.

Q. Can I decline this service?

A. Yes. Although we believe 3-D mammography provides additional diagnostic value to 2-D digital mammography, you are under no obligation to accept this service.

Q. Can I decide later to get breast tomosynthesis if I change my mind?

A. Unfortunately breast tomosynthesis coverage only applies when performed in conjunction with digital screening mammography. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this technology.

For more information on 3-D mammography or to schedule your 3-D mammogram, please contact our breast health navigator at (916) 263 5434 or (916) 263 5166.