Recognizing that accurate, early detection of breast cancer is so important for successful treatment, Milford Regional has recently invested in new state-of-the-art technology in mammography. 3D mammography (or tomosynthesis) is a new screening and diagnostic tool that creates a 3D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter slices, providing greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail in a way never before possible. They can scroll through images of your entire breast like pages of a book.
With conventional mammography, the radiologist viewed your 3-dimensional breast in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion of normal breast tissue looking like an abnormal area. By looking at the breast tissue in one millimeter slices, the radiologist can find cancers missed with a 2-D image. It also means there is less chance your doctor will call you back later for a second look, because now they can see breast tissue more clearly.
The new 3D imaging compliments traditional 2D digital mammography and is performed at the same time. There is no additional compression required, and it only takes a few seconds longer. During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple breast images at a number of angles. A computer then produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter layers. Instead of viewing all the complexities of your breast tissue in a flat image, the doctor can examine the tissue one millimeter at a time. Although there is slightly more radiation used with 3D mammography, it is very low X-ray energy and safely below the American College of Radiology guidelines.
Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40. In addition, women who have had breast cancer or who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should speak to their doctor about beginning screening mammography before age 40.
Speak to your doctor prior to scheduling a mammogram to discuss any symptoms or new issues you have with your breasts. Also, make sure your doctor is aware of any prior surgeries, hormone use and family or personal history of breast cancer.
Other recommendations include:
- The best time to schedule a mammogram is one week following your period, particularly if you have tender breasts. Always inform your doctor if there is any possibility you are pregnant.
- Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts.
- Describe any symptoms or problems you have with your breasts with the mammographer prior to the exam.
- Ask when your results will be available and how you will be informed of the results.
In order to perform your mammogram, you will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and put on a hospital gown. A specially qualified technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle. The compression is necessary to even out the breast thickness for better visualization and it holds the breast still in order to minimize blurring of the image. The exam process should take about 30 minutes.