Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, often referred to as a mammogram, is a revolutionary procedure to detect breast cancer in the earliest stages. It is very helpful in finding tumors before they grow big enough to spread further.

Over time, breast imaging technology has evolved, and recent advances have come to include digital mammography (2D breast screening), computer-aided detection, and breast tomosynthesis (3D breast screening).

Though both 2D and 3D mammograms are used for a similar purpose; detecting and diagnosing breast cancer, there are certain differences between the two. During a 2D mammogram, two pictures are typically taken of each breast – one from the side and one from above. Whereas with a 3D™ mammogram, multiple images of the breast are taken from different angles.

From a patient’s point of view, there may be some discomfort during the actual exam, as in order to get a high-quality picture, the breast must be compressed and flattened.  In the case of a 3D mammogram, these newer machines often have an improved patient experience due to their curved compression surface that mirrors the shape of the breast.

Both 2D and 3D breast imaging allow radiologists to electronically manipulate the digital images produced from the mammogram, potentially saving patients from undergoing additional views and therefore additional radiation. The ability to manipulate the digital images has been shown to improve the visibility of fine details for greater diagnostic confidence – regardless of age or breast density.1

Akumin proudly offers the Hologic® 3D Mammography™ system in many of its imaging centers. The Genius 3D™ Mammography™ exam finds 20%-65% more invasive breast cancers compared to 2D alone.2 It also reduces callbacks by up to 40% compared to 2D alone.3

Visit our health library to learn more about the different types of mammography exams and how to prepare for your mammography.

Please consult your physician for a full list of benefits and risks associated with mammography.

References: 1. Rafferty EA, Durand MA, Conant EF, et al. Breast Cancer Screening Using Tomosynthesis and Digital Mammography in Dense and Nondense Breasts. JAMA. 2016 Apr 26;315(16):1784-6  2. Results from Friedewald, SM, et al. “Breast cancer screening using tomosynthesis in combination with digital mammography.” JAMA 311.24 (2014): 2499-2507; a multi-site (13), non-randomized, historical control study of 454,000 screening mammograms investigating the initial impact the introduction of the Hologic Selenia® Dimensions ® on screening outcomes. Individual results may vary. The study found an average 41% (95% CI: 20%-65%) increase and that 1.2 (95% CI: 0.8-1.6) additional invasive breast cancers per 1,000 screening exams were found in women receiving combined 2D FFDM and 3D™ mammograms acquired with the Hologic 3D Mammography™ system versus women receiving 2D FFDM mammograms only.  3. Bernardi D, Macaskill P, Pellegrini M, et al. Breast cancer screening with tomosynthesis (3D mammography) with acquired or synthetic 2D mammography compared with 2D mammography alone (STORM-2): a population-based prospective study. Lancet Oncol. 2016 Aug;17(8):1105-13.

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