Why 3D mammograms matter

If you’re a woman age 40 or older, you probably don’t look forward to the discomfort of your annual mammogram. You may even skip them due to the pain—and risk a tumor going undetected.

A better view

With the new Hologic 3D mammography technology, University Health System patients will have some relief from the dreaded breast compression—along with earlier, more accurate cancer detection.

FDA-approved just this past February, this technology has been installed and is available for patients, said Chris Vineyard, the executive director of radiology services. University Health System is the first to offer this technology in San Antonio.

The curved paddles that more gently and comfortably compress the breast are just icing on the cake.

See more, sooner

Hologic 3D imaging gives higher contrast and sharper images:

  • Doctors are able to see fine calcifications and more invasive cancers 41 percent sooner than with traditional 2D mammography.
  • Better images also mean up to 40 percent fewer false positives, which result in women being recalled for another exam.
  • The clarity of the Hologic 3D images, even in comparison to older 3D imaging, helps doctors notice minute lesions in breast tissue.
  • The dose of radiation is no higher than with 2D imaging, and the screening time doesn’t take any longer.

“Especially for women with very dense breasts, the regular 2D images are kind of like looking through mud,” said senior mammography technologist Virginia Salinas. She said many women don’t know whether they have dense breasts, but with new technology, it doesn’t matter much.

University Health System will not charge a higher fee for 3D mammograms compared with 2D imaging, Vineyard said.

Most screenings will now use the Hologic 3D technology. It will not be offered on the traveling mammography bus; due to the equipment’s size, it will not fit on the mobile mammography bus.

But Vineyard stresses that women who need a mammogram right away shouldn’t wait.

“2D imaging still detects cancer,” he said. “Don’t delay getting screened.”

To request an appointment for a mammogram, call the University Health System Breast Health Center at 210-358-7020.

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