Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography) Q&A

3D Mammography Unit - Austin Radiological AssociationBreast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography) – A breakthrough in the early detection of breast cancer. You may have heard of 3D mammography, or breast tomosynthesis – the technology was approved by the FDA in February 2011 – but you may not know the details of this revolutionary exam and what it means for breast cancer detection. Here are some facts and answers to common questions. Request an appointment online now.

What is breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography)?
Breast tomosynthesis is a mammogram that gives radiologists the ability to view inside the breast layer by layer. During this simple exam, multiple images, or “slices,” are taken of different angles of the breast, exposing fine details that might be obscured by overlapping tissue. Breast imaging radiologists can now view a mammogram in a way never before possible.

What is it like getting a breast tomosynthesis exam?
The experience of getting a breast tomosynthesis exam is exactly like getting a standard mammogram except the scan takes a few seconds longer as the machine arm passes over the breast. There is no additional breast compression and the scanner is able to produce both a standard mammogram and breast tomosynthesis simultaneously.

What are the benefits of breast tomosynthesis?
Earlier detection: By revealing more of the breast tissue, breast tomosynthesis improves early detection of cancer. Studies have shown up to a 41 percent increase in the number of invasive breast cancers detected.
Fewer callbacks: Because radiologists can have a closer look at features in the breast, they are better able to distinguish between benign and cancerous abnormalities. That means fewer women get called back for additional imaging, cutting down on anxiety and expense. With breast tomosynthesis, callbacks have been reduced by up to 40 percent.

How much radiation will I be exposed to?
Very little. The amount of radiation used in a breast tomosynthesis is roughly equivalent to the amount used in film mammograms. It is below the FDA safety range and has been determined to be safe and effective. Plus, ARA’s new breast tomosynthesis units use advanced detector technology to determine the lowest possible dose for each patient.

Who should have breast tomosynthesis?
Studies have shown that all patients can benefit from this revolutionary technology regardless of breast density or family history. Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer and breast tomosynthesis has been shown to be more effective in detecting cancer than conventional mammography.

Is it covered by insurance?
Breast tomosynthesis is covered by Medicare. As it is a new technology, private insurance companies are still in the process of establishing coverage. ARA staff will help each patient determine their insurance status.

Where can I get breast tomosynthesis?
Breast tomosynthesis is available at 12 ARA locations. To schedule a breast tomosynthesis exam, please request an appointment online below or call (512) 453-6100.

Request an appointment online now.