Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) mammography

Henry Ford offers a new and advanced type of mammogram for breast cancer screenings. This mammogram is called digital breast tomosynthesis or DBT. DBT is a breast imaging technology that creates 3D pictures of the breast tissue using X-rays. Doctors and radiologists will be able to look at these 3D pictures and see breast cancers easier, especially in dense breast tissue.

How digital breast tomosynthesis works

A traditional mammogram takes two X-ray images of the breast: one image from the top to bottom and one image from side to side. DBT mammography is different because it takes multiple X-ray images of the breast from multiple angles. These images create the 3D picture of the breast, and your radiologist will be able to see tiny details of the breast tissue like never before. This 3D mammogram gives fewer false-positives and fewer call backs and may catch more tumors.

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Who should get a 3D mammogram?

DBT is primarily used for screening mammography, as studies show that screening is the place where DBT makes the most difference in finding breast cancer and decreasing the need for diagnostic mammograms and ultrasound. Those who may benefit the greatest are:

  • Women who have been diagnosed with dense breasts
  • Women with a history of breast cancer
  • Any woman who is undergoing her first (baseline) mammogram

Women should talk with their physicians at their next regularly scheduled appointment to determine if DBT mammography is appropriate for future breast cancer screenings.

Those who receive traditional digital mammography are still receiving one of the most advanced and well-proven technologies to assist in the early detection of breast cancer. In fact, screening mammograms used for further detection of breast abnormalities are still conducted using traditional digital mammography in most cases.

3D mammography for dense breast tissue

Approximately 45% of women undergoing screening mammography are classified as having either "heterogeneously dense" or "extremely dense" breasts. Fewer than 10% of all women have "extremely dense" breast tissue, which is associated with a relative risk of breast cancer of approximately 2 compared with average breast density. 40% of women have "heterogeneously dense" breast tissue, which is associated with a relative risk of approximately 1.2. Therefore, breast density is not a major cancer risk factor.

Breasts are considered dense if there is a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fatty tissue. Dense breasts can make it difficult to detect cancer. In a traditional mammogram, cancer can ‘hide’ or be obscured within the dense tissue. With a 3D mammogram, breast tissue can be examined layer by layer, making it easier to detect cancer in its earliest stage.

Make an appointment for a 3D mammogram

Digital breast tomosynthesis mammography is offered at these Henry Ford locations:

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