Finding cancer earlier with 3D mammography – Dr. Julie Lee

Julie Lee WWF Event

In the course of one year, nearly 22,000 women receive a mammogram at one of three Middlesex Hospital locations. In 2014, the Hospital introduced its first 3D mammogram machines, which have been shown to detect 40% more invasive breast cancers than the 2D test. Now more women will gain access to the superior test as the Hospital replaces all of its 2D machines with 3D machines.

Read on to learn more from Dr. Julie Lee, Middlesex Hospital Radiologist about 3D mammography. Your donation to the Women’s Wellness Fund will help more women get access to a superior 3D mammogram.

Why is a 3D mammogram better than a 2D mammogram?

Julie Lee, MD, Middlesex Hospital Radiologist (JL): The3D mammogram is the most advanced mammogram available. Images are displayed as a series of thin slices or pictures throughout the breast (3D images) – similar to looking through the pages of a book. In a 2D mammogram, a single picture of the entire breast is captured, which is similar to looking only at the cover of a book.

The 3D mammogram improves visualization for radiologists who can look through each layer of the breast images and better identify cancers earlier, which saves lives. In addition, improved visualization also decreases unnecessary callbacks, thereby decreasing anxiety and additional testing for patients.

Does a 3D test feel any different than a 2D test?

JL: The breast will be compressed in the same manner as a 2D mammogram, taking only a few more seconds to obtain the 3D images.  The experience will be similar to mammograms in the past.

Who should get mammograms and how often?

JL: 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. The earlier that cancer is found, the better the chance for survival. The American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging recommend that all women get annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40.

Does a 3D mammogram eliminate the need to get a breast ultrasound?

JL: Screening breast ultrasound can be used as a supplemental tool in addition to a screening mammogram, particularly in women with dense breasts. No large-scale studies have evaluated the efficacy of breast ultrasound as a supplemental tool to a 3D mammogram, so there is no agreement on including or eliminating this additional test. If you are found to have dense breasts on your mammogram, you may discuss with your doctor whether you would benefit from a screening breast ultrasound.

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