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Mammography and Routine Screenings

Mammography and Routine Screenings

A mammogram is the first line of defense against breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends a mammogram every 12 months for women over the age of 40. And now, the CHI Health Breast Center at Good Samaritan in Kearney offers the most accurate imaging you'll find in central Nebraska: 3D mammography. In addition to traditional mammography, 3D mammography offers another layer of diagnostic testing that has been proven to find cancers (specifically early stage cancers) at a higher rate. For patients who are considered high risk or have a family history of breast cancer, 3D mammography is the preferred method of imaging.

What is 3D mammography?

3D mammography, or digital breast tomosynthesis, allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time. It generates a stack of 1 mm images (“slices”) of breast tissue. Instead of viewing the complexities of breast tissue in one flat image, the radiologist can examine the tissue one layer at a time. Fine details are more clearly visible, no longer hidden by overlapping tissue.

It’s recommended that 3D mammography be used in conjunction with traditional digital mammography as part of annual screening mammograms to capture more breast images. 3D mammography in combination with traditional digital mammography detects up to 40 percent more invasive cancers and decreases false positive rates by 15 percent. (January 7, 2013 issue of Radiology)

Who is eligible for 3D mammography?

    All women can benefit from 3D mammography, especially:

    •  Women between the ages of 40-60

    •  Women having a baseline, first-time mammogram

    •  Women with dense breast tissue

    •  Women with a personal history of cancer

What is the cost of a 3D mammogram?

Medicare covers 3D mammograms, as do some private health insurance carriers and Medicaid providers. However, some health insurance and Medicaid providers will not pay the additional fees for 3D screenings. For the best information, please contact your health insurance carrier or Medicaid provider.

What are the benefits of 3D mammography?

  • Help reduce false positive rates by 15 percent
  • Decrease call-backs by 40 percent which means less worry, anxiety and cost for patients
  • Improve the selection of patients for biopsy
  • Increase cancer detection rates, especially in patients with dense breasts

What should someone expect during an exam?

The 3D mammography screening experience is similar to that of a traditional digital mammogram. The 3D screening images are taken at the same time as your traditional, digital screening. The technologist will position you, compress your breasts under a paddle, and take images from different angles. The X-ray arm will move in an arc, taking multiple low-dose breast images in just seconds. The length of the exam is similar to that of a routine traditional digital mammogram. The technologist sends your breast images electronically to the radiologist, who studies them and reports results to either your physician or directly to you.

The difference between digital and 3D mammography:

3D to Digital compare

A. Traditional digital mammogram
B. 3D mammogram (digital breast tomosynthesis) layers or “slices”

The traditional digital mammogram demonstrates an area of concern prompting further investigation with another mammogram of biopsy. With the same breast in 3D, the doctor can now see that this was simply normal overlapping breast tissue simulating an abnormality. The patient avoided a call-back for an additional mammogram, thanks to the 3D exam technology

Digital Mammography

For some women, digital mammograms may be the right choice. Good Samaritan's Breast Center provides softer, warmer mammograms using MammoPads®, a soft foam pad that can help relieve discomfort felt during a mammogram.

Digital mammography uses computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce an image that is displayed on a high resolution computer monitor and transmitted and stored just like computer files.

  • Unlike film-based mammography, digital mammograms produce images that appear on the technologists monitor in a matter of seconds, which means there is no waiting for the film to develop.
  • With digital mammography, the radiologist reviews electronic images of the breast using special high resolution monitors. The physician can adjust brightness, change contrast and zoom in for close-ups of specific areas of concern. Being able to manipulate images is one of the main benefits of digital mammography.
  • Another advantage over film is that digital greatly reduces the need for retakes due to over and under exposure.

Preparing for Your Mammogram

Mammograms at Good Samaritan are offered in a private space for patients, with a convenient entrance, close parking and a beautiful new look. When it's time for your appointment, park near the Ambulatory Cancer Center (ACC) on the northeast corner of the hospital (just east of the main entrance). Enter through the ACC door and check-in at the Admissions office in the waiting area.

Helpful Hints:

  • You shouldn't schedule your mammogram the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. It is best to schedule the test one week after your period.
  • Do not wear deodorant, lotion or powder to the hospital; these items contain calcium, which can show on your X-rays and confuse the findings.
  • You will be asked to remove all jewelry and clothing above the waist before the exam. A gown that opens in the front will be provided.
  • Before the mammogram, tell your technologist if you are or may be pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor or technologist of any breast symptoms or problems you have been experiencing.