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How 3D Mammograms Help Detect Breast Cancer (Video)

The 3D mammogram is still one of the best screening tools available to detect breast cancer, even as researchers continue to look for new uses of technology in detecting disease, such as a recent study [1] on computer-aided detection (CAD) to enhance breast cancer screenings.

3D mammography, or digital breast tomosynthesis, uses low-dose radiation to take pictures of breast tissue that are “sliced” into multiple views. Computer software transforms the views into three-dimensional angles of the breast tissue. 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.

“3D mammography gives us a clearer picture of breast tissue, especially in patients with dense breasts,” said Darlene Da Costa, M.D., [2] a radiologist at Bethesda Women’s Health Center [3] in Boynton Beach, a part of Baptist Health South Florida. “Clearer mammography images also help reduce a patient’s anxiety because we’re able to reduce the number of patients we have to call back for additional views or supplemental tests.”


(Video: The Baptist Health South Florida News Team hears from Darlene Da Costa, M.D., a radiologist at Bethesda Women’s Health Center about 3D mammography. Video by Steve Pipho.)

3D Mammography Benefits

Studies have shown that digital mammography is significantly better than conventional mammography at detecting breast cancer [4] 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.

The 3D system’s magnification capabilities and advanced filters also make it easier for mammography technologists to view images as they’re taken.

In accordance with American Cancer Society recommendations, the experts at Bethesda Health Women’s Center encourage monthly breast self-examinations and annual screening mammograms starting at age 40 until age 80 to 85. They also recommend mammograms at an earlier age for those with a first-degree relative with breast cancer at age 45 or younger, or other risk factors. And it’s important to have a clinical breast exam each year by a physician, nurse practitioner or another healthcare professional specially trained in the technique.

The Baptist Health South Florida News Team visited the Bethesda Women’s Health Center to learn more. Watch the video now.