HelloHealthy | Fall 2019 7 Mammograms give women a crucial head start on finding breast cancer early, when treatment is often most effective. They can detect tumors that are still too tiny to feel and identify cancers before symptoms start. Still, although they’ve saved countless lives, these breast x-rays aren’t perfect. Mammograms may miss about 20% of all breast cancers, the National Cancer Institute reports. They can also cause false alarms by indicating abnormalities that turn out not to be cancer. As a result, women may undergo unnecessary—and often anxiety-producing—additional testing, including biopsies. A different dimension in breast x-rays A newer type of mammogram, however, may help overcome these flaws and improve the accuracy of breast cancer screening. It’s called three-dimensional, or 3-D, mammography. (Breast tomosynthesis is another name for it.) Here’s how it works: During a 3-D mammogram, a woman’s breast is compressed, just as it is for a standard mammogram. An x-ray machine moves over the breast, taking multiple, slicelike pictures. Special computer software then creates a detailed 3-D image of the breast. Research suggests that 3-D mammograms have the potential to: ● ● Improve the ability of doctors to accurately diagnose breast cancer. ● ● Find small tumors that may have remained hidden on a conventional mammogram. ● ● Provide clearer images of abnormalities in dense breasts. Women who have dense breasts—defined as breasts that have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue and not much fat—are at a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer. ● ● Greatly reduce the number of women called back for further testing because of false alarms. Get tested The American Cancer Society recommends that women at average risk of breast cancer have yearly mammograms starting at age 45. (Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.) Additional source: Radiological Society of North America 3-D MAMMOGRAMS An updated of breast cancer Scheduling is easy! Mercy Medical Center offers 3-D mammography at the same price as a standard mammography screening. Schedule your 3-D mammogram at Mercy Imaging by calling 209.564.3161 .