Annual screening mammography is a topic you hear about a lot. The reason information about mammography is so prevalent is due to the statistics on breast cancer. 1 in every 8 women will get breast cancer during her lifetime, and 250,000+ annual cases will be some form of invasive breast cancer. Excluding skin cancer, breast cancer is the nation’s most common type of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death. 8 out of 9 women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease, meaning it can’t be predicted by background. And the risk of breast cancer increases with age, with two-thirds of invasive breast cancer cases affecting women over age 55.
But Wait – There’s Good News, Too
Before things start to seem ominous, let’s move on to some truly uplifting numbers. According to data from the American Cancer Society, breast cancer death rates decreased by 39% from 1989 – 2015, accounting for well over a quarter of a million lives saved. The 5-year survival rate is now 90%. What accounts for the steep decline in breast cancer deaths? Advances in treatment and early detection through routine screening mammography.
Mammography has continued to improve over the years, from xeromammography in the early 70s to FDA-approved digital mammography in 2000 to today’s digital breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography, the industry’s gold standard. Digital tomosynthesis captures multiple images of each breast from many angles, not just the front and side views produced by 2D mammography. The imaging arm arcs around the breast while a series of rapid-fire pictures is taken. The images are sent to a computer to create clear, highly detailed 3D-quality representations for thorough examination by your doctor.
RAO’s Women’s Imaging Center (WIC) was among the first local providers to make a full-scale shift to 3D mammography. And because not all 3D mammography is created equal, WIC researched and adopted what our radiologists determined to be the finest digital breast tomosynthesis in the industry, the 3Dimensions™ Mammography System.
Why 3Dimensions is Better
The 3Dimensions™ mammography system is built to provide superior quality images, for earlier and more accurate discovery in women across a range of ages and breast densities. 3D is the only mammography system FDA-approved as superior for the 47% of women with dense breast tissue, which is difficult to image using 2D mammography.
The 3Dimensions exam captures a series of detailed breast images, enabling your doctor to evaluate each breast layer by layer. It is 20%-65% more accurate at discovering invasive breast cancers, particularly among older women and women with dense breasts, all while creating a more comfortable experience. 3Dimensions’ curved compression surface parallels the shape of the breast, for deeper compression without more pressure, and sharper details through more layers of tissue, typically with less discomfort than a traditional 2D experience.
And this unrivaled technology takes only 3.7 seconds per scan on average, vs. other 3D mammography systems, which can take up to 10-25 seconds per scan, which is a long time to remain under compression. No thank you.
Greater Accuracy Means Less Anxiety
When you have a screening mammogram, you want to feel assured that something suspicious will be caught as early as possible, and that overlapping tissues, imaging artifacts or breast density won’t produce unclear results that could lead to a tiny cancer being missed or healthy tissue being mistaken for cancer. The 3Dimensions exam has demonstrated an up to 40% reduction in false alarms and subsequent callbacks, sparing women not only unneeded worry and anxiety, but also additional testing, including biopsies.
Is 3D Mammography Safe?
We also took safety into account when choosing our mammography system. The 3Dimensions exam creates both synthetic 2D and 3D images from the same scan, limiting exposure to ionizing radiation to levels that are similar to that of 2D digital mammography. A standard 2D mammogram creates a 0.4 millisievert (mSv) dose compared to 0.5 mSv for a synthetic 2D and 3D mammogram. To put it in perspective, Americans receive an average dose of 3.0 mSv each year from simply being outside.
When it comes to breast imaging, we take into account accuracy as well as safety, comfort and overall experience. Oh, and financial concerns. 3D mammography from RAO is covered by Medicare and most private insurance providers. What’s not to love?
Why Choose RAO?
RAO’s Women’s Imaging Center is the region’s only comprehensive women’s imaging provider, with the best in 3D mammography and innovative supplemental testing, including breast MRI and breast ultrasound. All images are analyzed in-house by Board Certified radiologists who subspecialize in breast imaging. WIC Medical Director, Dr. Amanda Aulls, oversees a team of caring and experienced staff and leading-edge technologies, earning WIC and RAO’s TimberRidge Imaging Center “Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence” designations from the American College of Radiology, an honor given to only a select few centers. And finally, we have what we believe is the finest, most compassionate staff you’ll ever meet.
Don’t delay your annual screening mammogram – it takes only a few minutes and is worth every one.
Our team will be honored to care for you quickly, safely and kindly. Just give us a call.