Dr. Donna Plecha wants you to think about the switch from digital to 3-D mammograms. While it might cost more initially, they are more effective at detecting breast cancer. So when you book your next annual mammogram starting at age 40, here are three reasons why 3-D may be right for you.
A better picture: A digital mammogram produces four pictures, while a 3-D mammogram makes nearly 200. The detail increases detection — especially for women who have midrange breast density. “It’s a more thorough look,” says Plecha, director of breast imaging at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.
Early detection: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 3-D mammograms to have a 41 percent increase in detecting invasive cancer and a 29 percent increase in the detection of all breast cancers. Early detection bumps five-year survival to 97 percent. “A patient may not have to go through chemotherapy if we catch it quickly,” says Plecha, who administered the study.
Less recalls: There are other mammogram alternatives, but 3-D decreases the number of false positive results by 15 percent, meaning fewer frightened women get unnecessary repeat mammograms after a suspicious finding. “If we can leaf through them and we know it’s something benign,” Plecha says, “we don’t have to call that patient back.”