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Understanding the difference between 2D and 3D mammograms

Mammography continues to be the best first line defense for early breast cancer screening. Building on traditional mammography, 3D mammograms offer a new way to see breast tissue. Wake Radiology’s Dr. Danielle Wellman is a breast imaging specialist and co-direct of Breast Services. She explains the difference in 2D and 3D mammograms, plus what’s involved during a 3D procedure and its benefits.

Breast Cancer Screenings: 2D and 3D Mammography

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. A mammogram can detect cancer early, when it is most treatable. Even though this is the case, nearly a third of American women currently do not get regular mammograms. Screening mammograms do not require a physician’s order. Wake Radiology simply requires that eligible patients have visited their physician within the past 18 months. Wake Radiology now offers both conventional 2D as well as 3D mammography at multiple locations throughout the Triangle. Please note that even though 3D mammography is FDA approved, most insurance companies are not yet reimbursing for this exam. Patients who choose to have the 3D mammography component performed will be asked to pay an additional fee at check-in, which may be an eligible flexible spending account (FSA) expense. Wake Radiology will submit a claim for the 3D component in case the insurance company decides to cover this exam. The fees associated with the 2D mammography portion of the exam will be billed to insurance as usual. Wake Radiology is the first outpatient practice in the Triangle to earn the American College of Radiology’s prestigious Breast Imaging Center of Excellence (BICOE) designation.

The latest in breast exams: 3D mammography

Wake Radiology is pleased to offer 3D mammography at multiple locations throughout the Triangle. 3D mammography is a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection. The main benefits are:

  • Tomosynthesis - 3D MammographyGreater accuracy for earlier and easier detection. 3D mammography has been shown to improve breast cancer detection by 27-50%.
  • Fewer call backs. 3D mammography has been shown to lower recall rates by 17-40%.

3D mammography is performed in conjunction with a traditional 2D digital mammogram to create a more complete picture of breast health. During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple images. A computer then uses these images to produce a layered 3D image of the breast tissue. This provides greater detail and allows the radiologist to see “inside” the breast layer by layer to find cancers earlier than ever.

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