The Advantage of 3D Mammograms for Breast Cancer Screening
Breast tomosynthesis, or a 3D mammogram, is the most preferred type of mammogram, as they find more cancers than a standard 2D mammogram. At UC Health, both 2D and 3D mammograms are offered.
Because 3D mammograms take multiple images of the breast, the radiologist and the physician interpreting your mammogram images can view the breast like flipping through the pages of a book. A 2D mammogram is a single picture, like a closed book, where all the pages overlap, making it difficult to see some breast tissue.
“It’s been proven that 3D mammograms have detected more breast cancers and at earlier stages,” Rifat Wahab, DO, assistant professor of radiology specializing in breast imaging at UC Health said.
Women are given the option of a 2D or 3D mammogram at the time of their appointment and are encouraged to get a 3D mammogram.
How Long Does a Mammogram Take?
A screening mammogram will take 20 minutes to take the pictures, but patients should anticipate being at the appointment for approximately 30 minutes. Typically, it takes 24 to 48 hours for results. If a patient has prior mammograms at another hospital or breast center, it’s important to receive those for comparison, as this will help in getting the most accurate results.
How Will I Get My Mammogram Results?
Patients can receive results three ways—in the mail, electronically through MyChart or from their primary care provider. At UC Health, all breast imaging is read by breast imaging experts—this fellowship-trained breast radiologists only do breast imaging. These physicians have completed additional training to subspecialize in breast imaging and intervention, which is shown in our breast imaging center’s many national accreditations, recognizing us as a center of excellence.
How to Prepare for Your First Mammogram
Discussing Your Breast Health
Taking ownership of your breast health starts with a conversation with your primary care provider once you turn 30 years old.
Dr. Wahab noted that when discussing your breast health, it is important to detail any personal or family history of cancers, especially breast/ovarian cancer, or if you have had any breast implants or surgery. This information is helpful to see if you qualify for a screening mammogram sooner, or even supplemental screening with additional studies, such as an MRI or breast ultrasound.
Scheduling Your Mammogram
There is no specific time of the year after you turn 40 to schedule your mammogram—just schedule it when you’re ready. On or around your menstrual cycle, the breasts can be tender and more sensitive to compression, so women may want to avoid scheduling a mammogram during that time.
If you are pregnant, it is still safe to get a mammogram for both the mother and baby but be sure to let your technologist know you are pregnant so they can provide extra shielding during the exam. It is also safe to get a mammogram if you are breastfeeding. Breastfeed or pump within 30 minutes of your mammogram to ensure the best pictures possible, and you can resume breastfeeding right away. At UC Health, patients can obtain mammograms at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center’s Barrett Cancer Center Building, West Chester Hospital and Women’s Centers and the UC Health Mobile Mammography Van.
The Day of Your Mammogram
Patients should avoid applying deodorant or creams, as these personal care items can show up on mammograms as calcifications. Please ensure your skin is clean, but again, do not apply any personal care items.
A mammogram feels like a tight squeeze, but it is not painful. Women usually do not feel any discomfort after a mammogram.