Prevention & Early Detection

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3D Mammography

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance patients visiting the Mobile Mammography Van can now have their breast cancer screenings in three dimensions with digital breast tomosynthesis, more commonly known as three-dimensional (3D) mammography.

What is 3D Mammography?

3D mammography is a new technology that allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time. 3D mammography uses high-powered computing to covert digital images into a stack of very thin layers or “slices.” A good analogy for the digital images created by 3D mammography is the pages of a book. If you look down at the cover you cannot see all the pages, but when you open it up, you can go through the entire book page-by-page and see everything in between.

What is different about a 3D mammogram?

Getting a 3D mammogram is much like getting a conventional mammogram. Just as with a conventional mammogram, the technologist will position your breast and compress it under a paddle. Instead of taking a single image from one position, the X-ray arm  during a 3D mammogram sweeps over the breast and takes multiple images. A computer then produces a 3D image of the breast tissue in one millimeter slices, allowing the radiologist to see the breast in much greater detail.

What are the benefits of 3D mammograms?

With conventional two-dimensional mammograms, the radiologist views all the complexities of the breast tissue in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion that it is normal. A 3D mammogram, on the other hand, looks at breast tissue in one millimeter slices, allowing the radiologist to provide a more confident assessment and reduce the likelihood for follow-up imaging.

Is there more radiation dose with a 3D mammogram?

No, 3D mammograms use about the same amount of radiation as a conventional mammogram done on film.

To schedule your digital 3D mammogram on the SCCA Mammography Van, please call (206) 288-7800.