3D mammography can help to detect breast cancer in its early stages.
With improved image quality, Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) will allow your radiologist and consultant to detect small breast cancers with greater accuracy.
Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the UK, according to the charity Breast Cancer Care, with 81% of cases occurring in women over the age of 50. Younger women may also have this test if they have found a lump, and breast cancer runs in their family. Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT), otherwise known as 3D mammography, can help detect breast cancer faster in its early stages. With improved image quality, DBT will allow your radiologist and consultant to detect small breast cancers with greater accuracy.
Breast tissue is made up of glandular, fibrous and fatty elements and some women have lots of fibrous and glandular material in the breast and very little fat. This increases the breast density and can make conventional mammograms difficult to interpret and therefore less precise. Women in their 20s, 30s and 40s often have naturally dense breast tissue. As women get older, those whose breast tissue remains dense seem to have a moderately increased risk of breast cancer, which is independent of other breast cancer risk factors.
Digital Breast Tomosynthesis has now been investigated in the UK and several European Breast Units. The addition of DBT increased the invasive cancer detection rate by as much as 40% and fewer women were recalled for unnecessary biopsies
If you decide to have a 3D mammogram with us, you’ll be cared for by an experienced multi-disciplinary team who understands what you’re feeling and are dedicated to your wellbeing.
Are there any risks?
The scan will include a 2D mammogram at the start. By having a 2D mammogram as well as Digital Breast Tomosynthesis, this effectively doubles the radiation dose received by the breasts. However, we all live with natural or ‘background’ radiation, which is present in our environment. A standard 2-view mammogram is estimated to be equivalent to seven weeks of background radiation or a long-haul flight to Australia and back. So, the risk of the mammogram X-rays directly causing a breast cancer is extremely low.
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You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
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Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having a 3D mammogram can potentially be a time of anxiety and worry. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
During the procedure, your radiographer will position your breast in a mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle. This is necessary so all the breast tissue can be X-rayed. The radiographer will then walk behind a screen and activate the machine.
The system works by creating a 3-dimensional picture of the breast with X-rays. This improves the accuracy of mammography by reducing the inevitable overlap of breast tissue in which small masses and distortions can be hidden. These architectural changes, which may indicate a cancerous process, become much more visible on the tomosynthesis images.
Your consultant and radiologist will look at the pictures and will determine the best course of follow-up action as provided by the national diagnostic system for reading mammogram - provided by BI-RADS, or the Breast Imaging Reporting and Database System. The system categorises lumps from zero to six and details the next course of action for each category - whether additional investigations are needed such as more imagery, a biopsy or regular screening. Your consultant will discuss this with you during your appointment.
The whole procedure will take around 30 minutes.
We take an integrated approach so we can organise any other breast care that you may need after your mammogram.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.