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Our Take: 3D mammograms benefit women of all ages

(NPR) When it’s time for your mammogram, should you ask for 3D?

A recent story featured on NPR addressed this very topic. Two studies published this year found that 3D mammography better detected cancer with 3D among younger women between 40 and 49 and in women 65 and older. Further, both studies found women who have 3D mammograms are less likely to be called back for further testing.  Click here to read the full story.

We asked Samir Patel, MD, FACR, Value Management Program Director at Radiology, Inc. and a member of the Beacon Health System Board of Directors, to offer his perspective on the topic.

Here is ‘Our Take’ on 3D mammography:

“Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and is the second highest cause of cancer deaths in women. 2D mammography, otherwise known as traditional mammography, is the only test that reduces the death rate due to breast cancer. Digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, improves upon 2D mammography technology in that a more detailed evaluation of breast tissue can occur resulting in improved ability to detect breast cancer and reduce the likelihood of being called back for additional imaging at a similar radiation dose and similar amount of breast compression and duration of the examination. Many studies have shown the ability to detect cancers at a smaller size  and lower stage with digital breast tomosynthesis, with many of these cancers being invasive and with the ability to metastasize.

“3D mammography benefits women of all ages, including women between ages of 40 and 50 and women older than 70 years of age. 3D mammography benefits women with all types of breast tissue density, including women with primarily dense breasts and those with primarily of fat density.

“The question many women may have is ‘Am I getting a 3D mammogram at Beacon Health System?’ The answer is yes. In fact, the standard at Beacon Health System, since 2016, is for all women to undergo 3D mammography unless they choose not to. Some women may choose not to undergo 3D mammography because of the small additional added cost, however more and more insurance companies are covering 3D mammography because of the benefit. We have seen the benefit of fewer recalls for additional imaging because of the 3D technology, which results in fewer additional visits and therefore less time away from work and family without the associated costs. When Beacon Health System implemented 3D mammography across all sites in 2016, less than 25 percent of facilities nationwide were providing similar access for all women. That number is now greater 50 percent demonstrating the higher adoption of the 3D technology benefitting more women across the country.

“3D mammography will continue to grow in utilization and will be the “new standard” for breast cancer detection.”