What is the Difference Between Traditional Mammography and 3D Mammography?

nurse with mammogram machineMammography is the main screening tool for detecting the presence of breast cancer in its earliest stages. If you’re having this type of screening performed, you can choose to have a traditional or a 3D mammogram.

The following explains the difference between these two types of mammography.

What is the purpose of mammography?

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that’s performed in order to screen for and detect the presence of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. However, a mammogram can help detect the presence of the disease before you or your doctor can feel a lump in your breast, so it helps improve early detection. The earlier cancer can be caught before it grows and spreads to other areas, the better your chances of successful treatment will be.

The American Cancer Society suggests the following guidelines for mammograms for the average woman:

  • Age 40-44: You have the option to start yearly mammograms.
  • Age 45-54: You should get a yearly mammogram.
  • Age 55 and up: You can get a mammogram every other year or choose to continue with yearly mammograms.

What is traditional mammography?

A traditional mammogram takes single X-ray images. Your doctor can examine these images to look for any changes and suspicious areas that could be signs of cancer.

During the test, you’ll stand in front of the X-ray machine and will place one breast at a time on a flat surface. A paddle will be lowered onto the top of your breast for about 20 to 30 seconds. As your breast is compressed, an X-ray is taken. The paddle will raise, and the technician will change the angle of the machine to take another X-ray.

The images will be processed, and your doctor will then be able to view and interpret them.

What is 3D mammography?

3D mammography is a more advanced type of scan than a traditional mammogram. It uses high-powered computing to convert breast images into a stack of thin layers.

What’s the difference between the two types of mammograms?

When you’re getting a mammogram, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference between a traditional and a 3D type of scan. It will take only a few seconds longer for 3D mammography to create the multiple layers of images.

For the radiologist who’s reading your exam results, however, a 3D mammogram can yield more precise, easy-to-read results. The images will be more clear and detailed, especially in mammograms performed on women who have dense breast tissue.

A traditional mammogram is much like looking down on the cover of a book, and 3D mammography can be compared to opening the book up and being able to flip through it page by page, seeing everything.

In addition, a 3D mammogram not only makes it easier to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, it also helps its size to be more precisely and accurately determined.

Stop by or make an appointment today with PURE Mammography to have a 3D mammogram performed. The screening takes only a few minutes and can help detect the presence of any breast cancer when it’s in the earliest, most treatable stages.

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