Mammography is a screening test that identifies breast cancer and other conditions related to the breasts using X-ray technology. The images created from the X-ray are called a mammogram, which is interpreted by a radiologist who determines if a patient is at risk for breast cancer.

Importance of 3D Mammography Screenings for Women’s Health

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), breast cancer remains a significant concern for women’s health, with statistics indicating that one in eight women will develop breast cancer by the age of 75. Given this, it is crucial for women to prioritize regular mammograms as part of their healthcare routine.

Mammograms serve as crucial screening tools for detecting signs or symptoms of breast cancer at its earliest stages when treatment options and prognosis are most favorable. Early detection significantly increases the likelihood of successful treatment and improves overall outcomes, potentially making the disease curable. Routine mammograms ensure timely detection and intervention in the fight against breast cancer.

Different Types of Mammograms: Screening Vs Diagnostic Mammograms


Screening mammograms are routine examinations recommended for asymptomatic women, typically starting at age 40 or 50, depending on guidelines and individual risk factors. Their primary goal is early detection of breast cancer, often before symptoms manifest, by capturing images of the breast tissue to identify any abnormalities or signs of cancer.

Conversely, diagnostic mammography exams are conducted when specific concerns arise, such as breast lumps or breast tissue changes. They involve more detailed imaging and may include additional views or specialized techniques to evaluate suspicious areas further. Diagnostic mammograms aim to provide a comprehensive assessment, helping healthcare providers determine the nature of any identified abnormalities and guide subsequent treatment decisions.


How a 3D Mammography Machine Works


A 3D mammography machine, or digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), captures multiple X-ray pictures of the breast from different angles, which a computer reconstructs into a three-dimensional view of the breast tissue.


The patient’s breast is gently compressed to spread the tissue during image acquisition. The reconstructed images provide detailed, high-resolution slices of the breast tissue, allowing radiologists to identify abnormalities such as masses or calcifications more accurately. Radiologists review the 3D images alongside traditional 2D mammogram images, if available, to generate reports for healthcare providers.


3D mammography offers improved visualization compared to 2D mammography, potentially leading to earlier detection of breast cancer and reducing the need for additional imaging studies or biopsies.



Differences in Mammography Alternatives


Alternatives to mammography include breast ultrasound and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of breast tissue. It is often used to evaluate further abnormalities detected on mammograms or for screening in women with dense breast tissue.


Breast MRI, on the other hand, utilizes magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of breast tissue. It is beneficial for evaluating high-risk individuals, assessing the extent of known breast cancer, and screening women with a strong family history of breast cancer.


While these alternatives can complement mammography, each has its benefits and limitations, and the choice of imaging modality depends on individual circumstances and clinical recommendations. Contact us today to review your options and determine what is best for you.

Digital Mammography FAQs


How do I prepare for a Mammogram? 

A mammogram is an imaging test using an X-ray machine to produce X-ray images. Therefore, any advice you’ve gotten to prepare for past X-rays, even those for a broken bone, applies in this case. Please refrain from wearing powder, lotions, or deodorants on the day of your test, as they can show up on your X-ray.


Do mammograms hurt?

Mammograms often cause brief discomfort from the machine’s pressure and compression. We recommend waiting until a week after your menstrual cycle to have this test performed, as the breasts are often less tender.


How Often Should I Get a Mammogram or Clinical Breast Exam?

Our specialists recommend women at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every one to two years, starting at age 40. You should continue mammogram screening until at least age 75.


Your OB-GYN may perform a clinical breast exam during your annual visit to check for abnormal shapes, puckers, dimples, or redness of the breasts. Clinical breast exams should be performed every one to three years for women ages 25-39 and every one to two years for women 40 years and older.


What Are the Signs of Breast Cancer & When Should I Get a Mammogram?

Signs of breast cancer include a lump or mass in the breast or underarm area, changes in breast size or shape, skin changes like redness or dimpling, nipple changes such as inversion or discharge, and persistent breast pain. While benign conditions can also cause these symptoms, seeing a doctor is essential if any changes are noticed.


As for mammograms, guidelines typically recommend starting regular screenings between the ages of 40 and 50, with intervals every one to two years. However, individual risk factors, family history, and personal health history may influence the recommended screening schedule. Furthermore, additional testing may be required if you receive abnormal mammography results.


Can I Get a 3D Mammogram With Breast Implants?

Yes, you can undergo a 3D mammogram with breast implants, but special considerations are necessary. Radiologic technologists may use additional techniques to ensure accurate imaging and minimize discomfort, particularly in cases of increased breast density. It’s crucial to inform us about the presence of implants before the mammogram so we can take appropriate precautions.


While breast implants can make mammogram interpretation more challenging, 3D mammography can improve the visualization of breast tissue and potentially reduce the need for additional imaging studies in women with implants.

Contact Our Health Care Center for Breast Cancer Screenings & Diagnostics

Sylacauga Obstetrics & Gynecology has provided women with the best body care in a comfortable and safe environment for over a decade. We refer all mammograms to the Coosa Valley Medical Center in Sylacauga, where you’ll receive the region’s best care.

For questions about mammography or to schedule your mammogram, please call or email us at [email protected].

For questions about mammography or to schedule your mammogram, feel free to give us a call or email us at [email protected].