Mammography is specialized medical imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to see inside the breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, aids in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.
There are several advancements in breast imaging which have vastly improved early detection of breast cancer.
Digital mammography, also called full-field digital mammography (FFDM), is a mammography system in which the x-ray film is replaced by electronics that convert x-rays into mammographic pictures of the breast. These systems are similar to those found in digital cameras and their efficiency enables better pictures with a lower radiation dose. These images of the breast are transferred to a computer for review by the radiologist and for long term storage. The patient’s experience during a digital mammogram is similar to having a conventional film mammogram.
Breast tomosynthesis, also called three-dimensional (3-D) mammography and digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), is an advanced form of breast imaging where multiple images of the breast from different angles are captured and reconstructed (“synthesized”) into a three-dimensional image set. In this way, 3-D breast imaging is similar to computed tomography (CT) imaging in which a series of thin “slices” are assembled together to create a 3-D reconstruction of the body. It is best to check with your insurance company for your specific coverage.
Studies have shown that screening with breast tomosynthesis results in improved breast cancer detection rates and significantly fewer “call-backs,” instances where women are called back from screening for additional testing because of a potentially abnormal finding.
Breast tomosynthesis may also result in:
- earlier detection of small breast cancers that may be hidden on a conventional mammogram
- greater accuracy in pinpointing the size, shape and location of breast abnormalities
- fewer unnecessary biopsies or additional tests
- greater likelihood of detecting multiple breast tumors
- clearer images of abnormalities within dense breast tissue