The Facts About 2D and 3D Mammograms

 

Dr. Shelly Sharma

Oncoradiologist

MBBS, DNB( Radiodiagnosis ). Observorship in Breast Imaging , Mayo Clinic, USA. Fellowship in Ultrasound guided Tumor ablation , Samsung Medical Centre, South Korea. Fellowship in onco radiology , National Cancer Centre, Singapore.

 

(2.5 minutes read)

Mammograms help women find breast cancer early, often when a tumor is still too tiny to be felt/ palpated and treatment may be easier. It is one of the best tests that help doctors detect the disease earlier, sometimes few years before it can actually present with symptoms. All women above 40 years of age should undergo an annual screening mammogram, it can be earlier for women who are at high risk of breast cancer. A common question you would be asked when going for screening mammogram would be whether you want to undergo a 2D or 3D mammogram. Many women find it confusing , we at doctor minutes want to empower you with the correct medical information.

Earlier mammograms used to be in 2 dimensions only, that is known as 2D mammogram. Now with the recent advances, 3D mammogram is a possibility where in the breasts are imaged in multiple plane. Here are five things you should know about 2D and 3D mammograms:

Both 2D and 3D mammograms are methods to image the breasts.

The machine utilized for 3D mammogram also known as digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) is a digital mammography machine which can also be utilized for a 2D mammogram (also called conventional digital mammogram). During a 2D mammogram, two images of the breasts are typically taken—one from the side and one from above.

During a 3D mammogram multiple consecutive images of the breast are taken from different angles. The data is then combined by a computer to create a 3D picture of the breast, which may give doctors a clearer and more accurate view of the breast tissue.

Procedure of both types of mammograms is the same.

It is a common misconception that breasts need not be compressed during 3D mammogram. While the truth is the procedure for both 2D and 3D mammograms, are quite similar and involve compression of the breasts.

3D mammograms may have advantage over 2D mammograms.

3D mammograms give the radiologist a clearer picture of breast tissues which helps them in making an accurate diagnosis specially in women with dense breast parenchyma. It may help them pick up smaller tumors which otherwise maybe hidden within breast parenchyma. It also helps better differentiate between an abnormality and normal breast parenchyma. Thus reducing the number of times women are called back for further testing because of false alarms.

Discuss with your radiologist for the type of mammogram best suited for you.

Both 2D and 3D mammograms are good screening options. However, in case of dense breasts as are likely to be in younger age women, a 3D mammogram should be preferred. You may discuss your case with a radiologist who will then advice on type of mammogram keeping in mind your age and breast density as seen on previous mammograms.

Where you get your mammogram done, matters.

You should get a digital mammogram done specially from a centre with an option for 3D mammography. Prefer a breast radiologist, a radiologist who specializes in reading breast imaging and are better at picking up findings.

 

This information is for general guidance and reflects the opinions and experience of the author. It is not intended to replace specialist consultation or provide treatment advice for specific cases.

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