3D mammograms


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More than 40,000 women in the U.S. will die of breast cancer this year. It is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. 

One in every eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. 

A mammogram is the gold standard screening tool for spotting a breast tumor. But now there’s the 3-D mammogram. It takes multiple x-ray images from many angles and creates a 3-D picture of the breast. Studies show it can detect more cancers in women with dense breast tissue, and it renders fewer false positives. 

Dr. Debbie Bennett, director of breast imaging, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, “The data actually shows that 3-D mammography is better for all groups of women than 2-D mammography.” 

But not every woman is being offered this technology. Part of the reason? It’s much more expensive than a standard mammogram, so many facilities can’t afford the equipment. Also, some experts say even if the 3-D method spots more cancers, that may not translate to saved lives. And, there’s the concern over radiation. In the past, the 3-D mammogram was combined with 2-D, so radiation exposure was much higher. 

However, newer 3-D only machines emit less radiation. The bottom line? You’ll have to stay tuned to see if 3-D goes mainstream.

Another reason many hospitals aren’t going 3-D? The equipment needed for a 3-D mammogram requires facilities to change their electrical supply and upgrade their air conditioning because the machine is sensitive to heat.


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