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It's Boob-tober: why not go 3D this year?

Time to go check 'em. It's a nuisance and a little uncomfortable, but we all understand it's value to ourselves and our family. If you've never done it before, consider a 3D scan (or
Hibiscus Heart
Take care of your breasts!
breast tomosynthesis). Studies suggest 3D mammography images are better at detecting invasive cancers than typical 2D images.
I don't know if you've ever had the "callback" before, but its scary. For those of you who don't know, it's when the radiologist finds something suspicious on your scan that requires further testing. Your heart beats a little faster for a moment and all the possibilities come barreling through your brain as you tell yourself, "Calm down. They just want to take another look. No big deal". But, it still feels like a big deal.
 
Additionally, a callback means another test, another co-payment and possibly more time off work. The 3D scan cuts down on the callbacks and that's a really good thing.
 
Dreaded and costly callbacks aside, the 3D scan is better at detecting invasive cancers. Instead of taking photos from only 2 angles, 3D scans take images in slices, similar to CT scans, allowing a more complete image of the breast tissue. Does everyone need that? Maybe not. It seems that younger women with more dense breast tissue and women with implants may benefit the most.
 
One draw back is that most insurance carriers do not cover tomo scans. (Rest assured, they are FDA approved.) So, that means there's an out of pocket expense. My 3D scan was $75. However, I've seen it as high as $150 and as low as $50.
 
Also, while I've read that tomo scans have gained approval for stand alone use, they are usually done in conjunction with a standard 2D mammogram. While it uses very low radiation, you are compounding your exposure because of the double scan.
 
A quick personal anecdote - my aunt was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer, or carcinoma in situ, last summer. I didn't even know stage 0 was a thing. She and her doctors credit the 3D scan for detecting it. She was successfully treated, in large part because it was detected very early. While articles I've read are hesitant to claim tomosynthesis scans are better at detecting early stage cancers, her doctors are pretty convinced.
 
If you'd like more information, the Wall Street Journal published an article in June of 2014 that offers some different perspectives on the value of 3D breast scans. It also explains in very plain language how the scan works and gives some detection rate and 'callback' statistics. Definitely worth a read if you are considering a tomo scan.
 
 
 
 
 
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