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A woman standing in front of a mammogram machine

Mammograms: 2D vs 3D - What’s the difference?

3D mammogram (tomosynthesis) is a newer technology that is quickly becoming the standard of care for breast imaging especially when breast tissue is dense. The test can give radiologists a higher resolution, “slice by slice” view of the breast making it possible to see cancers that may have been missed otherwise. It has also been shown to reduce the amount of false positives, resulting in fewer women being called back for additional testing.

Conventional 2D mammogram however is still a very good technology in detecting breast cancer and has been shown to lower death rates from the disease.

Radiation exposure with 3D mammograms is slightly higher than the dose used with 2D mammogram, but both tests have received FDA approval for safe levels of radiation.

While the Affordable Care Act stipulates preventative care at no out-of-pocket costs on most health plans, including annual screening mammography from age 40, not all insurance companies cover the additional cost of a 3D Mammogram. You should confirm with your insurance carrier to see if a 3D mammogram is covered by your plan.

Overall, improvements to early detection have resulted in lowering breast cancer death rates by 40% from 1989 - 2016.