What Are the Pros and Cons of 3-D Mammograms?

Michelle Hopkins

Early detection of breast cancer is crucial to fighting the disease. Because of this, some medical care providers are turning to 3-D mammograms. As with any diagnostic tool, there is some debate as to whether or not it is the best method of detecting breast cancer. If you are considering a 3-D mammogram, it is important to weigh the benefits and risks. 

Why Should You Have a 3-D Mammogram?

One of the main benefits of a 3-D mammogram is that it is thought to be more effective in obtaining clear images of dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue makes it more difficult for doctors to read a mammogram. On a 2-D mammogram, the tissue and cancer both look white. Unfortunately, this can make it more difficult to determine whether or not there is cause for concern. 

By contrast, the 3-D mammogram offers a clearer image that is taken from various angles. The result is an image from which doctors can more easily distinguish between tissue and cancer. 

The use of a 3-D mammogram can also mean that you are less likely to be called back in for additional testing. With a 2-D mammogram, if there is room for doubt, it is not uncommon to either order another scan or to rely on other methods. If another mammogram is ordered, you are exposed to even more radiation. 

Due to the more accurate results that can be obtained by using a 3-D mammogram, you are more likely to get the lifesaving treatment you need if you do have breast cancer. Breast cancer can be particularly aggressive and the earlier you receive treatment, the better chance you have for survival. 

Why Should You Not Have a 3-D Mammogram?

There is some concern that a 3-D mammogram exposes you to even more radiation. The test is usually performed in conjunction with the 2-D mammogram. It also lasts a few seconds longer. As a result, there is a higher level of radiation exposure. 

It is important to note that the one-time increase in exposure can actually pale in comparison to the amount of exposure you would experience if you have a 2-D mammogram and have to come back for multiple mammograms in the near future to determine whether or not you have cancer. 

Another issue with the 3-D mammogram is that some insurance companies will not cover the procedure. If your carrier refuses to, you can file an appeal. With the help of your doctor, you can prove that the diagnostic tool is medically necessary and possibly convince your provider to pay for it. 

Your doctor can help you further weigh the pros and cons of a 3-D mammogram and answer any questions you have about the procedure. You might also consider speaking with a representative from a company like EVDI Medical Imaging.