Making Quality-Based Decisions: Is 3D Mammogram Better Than 2D?

January 5, 2020 – 4 min read

Share this post:

As we have discussed in previous posts and will continue to reiterate, all women over the age of 40 should have an annual mammogram and clinical breast exam to screen for breast cancer. Some sources suggest that reducing screening frequency to every other year after age 50 is acceptable. Mammograms have been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality rates by nearly 40% and can detect breast cancer up to two full years before a lump can be felt on exam. When it comes to mammography and outpatient diagnostic imaging centers, you have many options. In today’s post, we will focus on the differences between 2D and 3D mammograms to help you make a well-informed decision about your care.

At Touchstone Imaging Centers, we offer screening mammograms without a doctor’s order or an appointment, and we offer both 2D and 3D mammography options at many of our locations. Whether you need your annual mammogram, a diagnostic test, or a follow-up mammogram, breast ultrasound, or breast MRI, contact us to schedule your appointment today!

What is a 3D Mammogram?

3D mammograms — digital breast tomosynthesis — take images of the breast tissues in thin layers — much like the pages of the book. When the images are compiled together, it creates a 3D image of the entire breast. This helps gives radiologists a clearer and more complete picture of the entire internal structure of the breast. While 3D mammograms are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved as safe and improve on traditional mammography in almost every way, they’re still not considered the standard for breast cancer screening. This may be due, in part, to the fact that 3D mammograms are relatively new. Many hospitals and imaging centers may not have access to the necessary specialized equipment and therefore default to traditional 2D mammography.

According to the FDA’s Mammography Quality Standards Act Program, out of the 8,700 accredited medical imaging facilities across the country, certified digital breast tomosynthesis units exist in only 4,600 as of 2019. That means only slightly more than half of the nation’s facilities have the necessary equipment and expertise needed to provide cutting-edge mammography screenings. Touchstone Imaging is proud to be one of the nation’s medical imaging companies that have the technology and the skilled technicians to offer this advanced imaging service.

What Are the Benefits of a 3D Mammogram?

While any mammogram is better than no mammogram, 3D mammography has become the front-runner in quality for mammograms. There are several reasons why many patients and their providers prefer a 3D mammogram over other options. Just a few of the benefits include:

Better image clarity offers fewer false positives than a traditional mammogram.

One study, published in 2019, suggests that digital breast tomosynthesis generated fewer false positives. False positives are when a mammogram shows an abnormal area that appears to be cancer, but turns out to be normal. Not only does this provide peace of mind for patients, but it also requires fewer unnecessary repeat scans and biopsies.

A more complete picture detects more cancer than traditional mammograms.

The 3D images offered by digital breast tomosynthesis allows radiologists and providers to see deeper into tissues, even in very dense breasts. What this means for you is that the radiologist can detect small tumors and abnormalities deep within the tissue, that wouldn’t be detectable by a breast exam or 2D mammograms. In fact, some studies suggest that 3D mammograms can detect 27-50% more cancers than traditional mammograms. This means that 3D mammograms can detect cancer much sooner before it metastasizes.

Many patients don’t notice the difference.

Another benefit of a 3D mammogram over a traditional 2D mammogram is that patients don’t experience additional exam time and there is no additional discomfort during the procedure. Similarly, most major insurances cover 3D tomography, so the cost isn’t much different.

3D Mammography at Touchstone Imaging Centers

At Touchstone Imaging we recognize the importance of mammography and the benefits of 3D over traditional mammograms. We are proud to offer traditional mammogram at these locations:
Arlington Arbrook Blvd, Burleson, Dallas- Forest Lane, DT Fort Worth Rosedale, Fossil Creek, Grand Prairie, Hurst, Keller, Lewisville, Mesquite, North Garland, Red Oak, Stone Oak, Touchstone Imaging Mammography & Bone Density, Lafayette, and Touchstone Imaging Edmond.

Touchstone Imaging Center locations that offer 3D Mammograms:




For more information, visit our online mammogram resources:

Mammogram FAQ
Women’s Imaging Services
3D Mammography