Why are 3D Mammographs Important to Women’s Health?

In 2022, doctors will diagnose about 288,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women. Science has come a long way in terms of stopping breast cancer in its tracks. And 3D mammography is part of the reason why. What is a 3D mammogram and why should women get screened? Additionally, what advances has science made over the years in terms of detecting breast cancer in women?

Keep scrolling to learn more.

What is 3D Mammography?

Breast cancer screenings are our best chance at detecting cancer before it has a chance to spread further. A 3D mammogram is a machine that takes and combines several x-rays of the breast to create a three-dimensional picture of it. Then, a radiologist puts the images together in such a way that they can view it from different angles and perspectives with amazing clarity. It takes what would have otherwise been a flat image and brings it to life.

This better helps doctors understand the health of the breast tissue. 3D mammography can detect breast cancer and other problems in the area. And it’s contributed to many saved lives. One study found that 3D mammography screening increased breast cancer detection rates by roughly 40%. Incredibly, it can pick up on breast cancer up to two years before your doctor will be able to feel a tumor.

So, while manual self-exams, or exams from a practitioner, are always a good idea, as you age, getting your yearly mammogram will provide another layer of defense. It’s the best early detection tool we currently have.

Changing the Landscape of Breast Cancer Detection

The evolution of mammograms has introduced many iterations, and one of the latest versions has been breast tomosynthesis. It’s a more advanced version of the previous 2D mammogram and has demonstrated even higher cancer detection rates, with fewer patient recalls for additional testing.

Technologist doing 3D mammogram on patient

In 2016, SDMI became one of the first imaging centers to introduce tomosynthesis, with the GE Senoclair machine. Two years later, we brought in an even newer advancement in 3D mammography: the Senographe Pristina by GE.

Better science and improved technology mean earlier detection and more saved lives.

Why Women Need to Get Screened

You might think that if you’re generally healthy with no family history of breast cancer, you’re in the clear. And these factors do certainly work in your favor. However, cancer doesn’t discriminate, and 80% of cancer diagnoses have no family history. So, getting screened is vital.

Healthy women should start getting yearly mammograms at the age of 40. This is because at 40 years of age, your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer jumps considerably. At 30, the risk is 0.49% or 1 out of 204 people. At 40, that number jumps to 1.55% or 1 out of 65 people. The likelihood only increases from there. These numbers are based on the general population. So, it may vary from individual to individual based on a number of unique factors. These factors can include:

  • Personal history of breast cancer (if you’ve had it in the past).
  • Family history of breast cancer (if someone in your family has had it).
  • Other genetic factors.
  • Hormone use (like certain methods of birth control).
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding history.
  • Lifestyle.
  • Nutrition.
  • Alcohol intake.

Yearly screening can reduce your risk of dying from breast cancer. The overall sensitivity of mammography is around 87%. In other words. It can correctly identify approximately 87% of women who have breast cancer. It’s especially accurate for women who are 50 years of age and older.

What’s it Like to Get a Mammogram?

Getting a mammogram might not be the most enjoyable experience in the world. But science has come a long way in improving it. One of the main goals of the Pristina mammography machine is to ease patient anxiety and help them stay calm during their appointment. It uses soothing lighting and has a rounded shape, offering a more relaxing experience. The soft headrest and armrest help to keep the patient more comfortable.

Furthermore, the Senographe Pristina offers exceptionally high-definition images without needing to expose the patient to additional radiation. It’s a better experience for the patient and provides more detailed imaging for the radiologist. This means that not only is the breast cancer screening process easier, but it provides better results too.

The whole process should take less than 15 minutes. After taking your images, your technologist will ensure that they’ve got everything they need. Then, they’ll send your images off to a radiologist, who will interpret them and deliver the results.

If the radiologist sees something in your images that might be abnormal, they’ll call you in for additional testing. Don’t panic! This doesn’t automatically mean that you have cancer. Fewer than one in 10 people who have an abnormal mammogram end up having breast cancer. It’s more of a precaution to figure out what might be going on and determine if you need any treatment.


When it comes to your imaging, working with experienced professionals who have state-of-the-art equipment is going to be important for getting accurate results.

SDMI is proud to offer breast tomosynthesis at all of our locations. We’re certified as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. Dr. Aanshu Shah, Director of Women’s Imagining, says, “Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, will revolutionize how we read mammograms,” also calling it “perhaps the single most important advancement in medical imaging to benefit women.”

Take a proactive approach to your wellness and get screened. Ready to take the next step in breast health? Schedule an appointment with SDMI today.

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