3D Mammography in Portland

Your breast is three-dimensional — your mammogram should be too

Too many of us have either had or know someone who's battled breast cancer. In health care, doctors are fighting back against the disease with advances in treatments, research and technology.

One of the most recent advances in technology is breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography. While 2D digital mammography is still the standard screening method for breast cancer, there are some benefits to leveling up.

What's a 3D mammogram?

3D mammography uses low-dose X-rays to take many pictures as cross sections of the breast. These pictures are then blended into one image that offers a detailed look inside the breast.

This detailed image offers several benefits over regular 2D mammograms.

Less discomfort

Most women don’t like the breast compression required for a mammogram. During a typical 2D mammogram, the breast must be positioned and compressed twice. This allows for a top image and a side image.

3D mammograms only require one compression. Instead of the breast having to move, the machine moves around the breast, capturing multiple images from different angles. Many people find this to be more comfortable.

Fewer callbacks

Comfort isn’t the only advantage to 3D mammography. The detail image created has been shown to improve accuracy and reduce false positive rates for women.

That means fewer callbacks and follow-up tests. Callbacks occur when the radiologist has questions about the images and women are called to come back for additional pictures.

Better for dense breast tissue

3D mammography may be a more accurate way of screening dense breasts. On a standard 2D mammogram, it’s more difficult to see an underlying cancer in women with dense breasts. It’s easier when using 3D mammography.

Wondering how you know if you have dense breasts? Your primary care doctor or nurse practitioner is the best person to ask. If you have dense breasts, 3D mammograms might be a particularly good choice.

Breasts are made up of glandular, connective and fatty tissues. They're considered dense if they have a lot of glandular and connective tissues and not much fatty tissue. About half of women over 40 have dense breasts.

When should you get screened?

The best way to prevent invasive breast cancer is to stay on top of your screenings. Talk with your provider about how often you should get a mammogram. In general, we recommend women age 40 and older have a mammogram every year or two.

Not all medical facilities offer 3D mammograms. To schedule your 3D mammogram with Adventist Health Portland, please call (503) 251-6132.