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Tomosynthesis / 3D Mammography

A Promising Technology for Cancer Detection in Dense Breasts.

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Overview

3D mammography is an advanced form of mammography, a specific type of breast imaging that uses low-dose x-rays to detect cancer early when it is most treatable. 3D mammography aids in the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. The technology provides a more thorough examination than traditional 2-dimensional (2D) mammograms by providing more information about breast tissue density, which can be an indicator of cancer.  

In addition to detecting cancers earlier than traditional 2D digital mammography, 3D mammography can also be used to verify suspicious areas identified by other imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI.

How Does Tomosynthesis / 3D Mammography Work? 

Traditional mammography platforms only capture 2-dimensional images of the breasts. However, in a 2D view, breast components, namely the milk-producing glands, fibrous tissue, fat, ligaments and blood vessels are overlapped. Small and large non-calcified breast tumours can sometimes go unreported due to this overlapping. However, tomosynthesis, on the other hand, reduces tissue overlapping and produces better quality images. 

Tomosynthesis / 3D mammography allows radiologists to examine the breast tissues in thin slices or layers, usually 1 mm thick. The x-ray arm swings in a tiny arc across the breast during a 3D mammography, obtaining a sequence of images from multiple angles. These images are then fed to a computer, which puts these images together into thin slices. This method allows the radiologists to observe the breast tissues more clearly and identify the anomalies successfully. During the examination, very low X-ray energy is employed to ensure that radiation exposure is kept within the prescribed guidelines.   

Advantages of Tomosynthesis/ 3D Mammography 

There are multiple advantages associated with 3D mammography:

  • 3D mammography produces better-quality images that support more accurate breast cancer diagnosis. 
  • This helps detect cancers in women with dense breast tissues. 
  • 3D mammography can reduce the chances of false positives. 
  • It reduces the need for additional imaging by providing better quality images in the first go. 
  • It is a safe screening and diagnostic test for breast cancer. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Tomosynthesis / 3D mammography is more reliable than traditional mammography. 3D mammography uses low-dose x-rays to detect cancer early when it is most treatable. Unlike traditional mammography, 3D mammography aids in the early detection of cancer in women with dense breasts too.

Yes. 3D mammography is safe for you. However, individuals must know that 3D mammography creates an image of the breast using X-rays, which exposes you to a low quantity of radiation.

Individuals often experience a little pain and discomfort during the procedure since the breasts are pressed against the mammography platform to get better-quality images of the breast tissues. Apart from this, the radiologist may also request you to hold your breath to avoid the blurring of images.

Tomosynthesis / 3D mammography may take about 30 minutes. 

The tomosynthesis / 3D mammography platform captures the images of breasts from multiple angles and allows the radiologists to examine the breast tissue in thin slices. This way, 3D mammography helps in the early detection of breast cancers among women with dense breast tissues as well.

The term “false positive” refers to a situation in which a scan reveals an abnormal area that turns out not to be a malignant tumour. With 2D mammography, some patients are recalled for something abnormal, necessitating further imaging. However, this happens hardly in the case of 3D mammography.

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