September 22, 2022 by John Fernandez
3D Mammography: Clear and Accurate
Mammography plays a major role in detecting breast cancer when it’s still small enough to be easily treated. And advances in detection and treatment of breast abnormalities, both benign and cancerous conditions, are helping to find small, invasive cancers earlier with less invasive techniques.
3D mammography, also called breast tomosynthesis, uses low-dose radiation to take pictures of breast tissue that are “sliced” into 8-15 views. The computer system then transforms the views into three-dimensional angles of the breast. The density of the breast tissue determines the number of slices. The denser the tissue, the more slices, or views, the computer generates, providing radiologists and technicians clearer views of and through the tissue.
“The 3D technology gives us a clearer picture of breast tissue, especially in patients with dense breasts. It allows us to ‘see through’ overlapping breast tissue so that masses are more readily seen,” said Cristina Vieira M.D., a board-certified radiologist who helped implement 3D mammography at Baptist Health in 2011 at Baptist Outpatient Center. “The other important benefit of 3D imaging is the reduction in recall rates – having to call patients back for additional mammographic views or supplemental tests – which greatly reduces a patient’s anxiety.”
A Harvard Medical School-trained physician who completed a fellowship in breast imaging at New York University Cancer Institute, Dr. Vieira is one of several leading specialists in the intervention of breast conditions at Baptist Health South Florida. The specialized radiologists oversee breast imaging at Baptist Outpatient Center, Baptist Health Breast Center and all other Baptist Health diagnostic locations that offer digital mammography. The facilities are accredited by the American College of Radiology, meaning they meet standards for radiation safety and image quality.
Addressing concerns some patients have about receiving increased radiation with certain advanced imaging tests, like CT scans, Dr. Vieira points out that while the level of radiation in 3D mammography is more than prior 2D technology, it’s below limits set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Digital Mammography Benefits
The tomosynthesis system also makes things easier for technologists who perform the tests. An enhanced control center includes an oversize monitor that swivels out and around for easy viewing, as well as advanced filters and magnification view capabilities that enable the technician to easily switch back-and-forth between images.
“The added features and controls make it easier for me to see the images on the screen and separate slices of the image to get a better, clearer picture of breast tissue,” said Gigi Sirias, a registered mammography technologist at Baptist Outpatient Center. With the enhanced system, the machine and monitor are easier to maneuver when positioning for different mammography views.”
Studies have shown that digital mammography is significantly better than conventional mammography at detecting breast cancer in women under 50, premenopausal and perimenopausal women, and women with dense breasts. The survival rate for people with breast cancer that is detected early, at a localized stage, is 98 percent, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
In accordance with American Cancer Society recommendations, the experts at Baptist Health Breast Center encourage monthly breast self-examinations and annual screening mammograms starting at age 40 until age 80 to 85. Baptist Health’s breast health specialists also recommend mammograms should be done at an earlier age for those with a first-degree relative with breast cancer at age 45 or younger, or other risk factors. It’s important to have a clinical breast exam by a physician each year as well, they say, and advise digital mammography is the best screening tool to detect breast cancer.
Special Mammography Pricing
As part of its ongoing commitment to expanding care in the community, Baptist Health is offering special mammography pricing for patients without insurance in May. Screening mammograms are available for $50, and diagnostic mammograms are being offered for $100 between May 1-31. 3D mammography is included in the special pricing. To schedule a mammogram at a Baptist Health facility, call 786-573-6000 in Miami-Dade, 954-837-1000 in Broward, 305-434-1588 in Monroe, or complete the online form.
A doctor’s prescription is required to schedule a mammography appointment. Download a prescription form here for your physician to complete. For a free referral to a primary care physician who can write a prescription for you, call 786-596-2464.