Mammography, or digital x-ray of the breast, has advanced rapidly in the past few years. The newest equipment, 3D mammography, allows us to better detect breast cancer by up to about 80% in comparison to regular digital mammography. 3D mammography or breast tomosynthesis is able to create a 3D image of the breast tissue, and provides the radiologist with more information to better detect cancer but also so there is less need for callbacks or special added views. SimonMed is a pioneer in 3D mammography, starting with one of the first private outpatient installations in the United States. We use 3D mammography from GE, Hologic and Siemens.
There are two types of mammograms. Screening mammography is performed yearly for the early detection of cancer. Diagnostic mammography is performed when there is already a concern about an abnormality such as breast lump, or when there is a special follow-up diagnostic mammogram requested. After the diagnostic or screening mammogram is completed, additional computer processing is performed. For screening mammography, additional computer processing assesses breast density, and uses an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm or Computer Aided Detection (CAD) to evaluate for abnormal calcifications. Breast cancer can appear as abnormal calcifications, tissue distortions, or solid spots or masses. Benign masses such as fibro-adenomas also can be identified. Screening mammography is bilateral, but diagnostic mammography generally applies to the side of concern, but in some circumstances a comparison with the other side could be required.
Not all cancers are visible on 3D mammography, particularly in women who have dense breast tissue. Ultrasound using sound waves is often used to compare with the mammogram, particularly in women with dense breasts, family histories of concern, clinical findings, or diagnostic mammograms.
Mammography is usually covered by insurance, but there can be out of pocket costs particularly with diagnostic mammograms and ultrasound.
SimonMed has comprehensive women’s imaging, including breast MRI and breast biopsy services. We also can provide a risk assessment based on standard criteria.