About 3D Mammography

3D mammography is an FDA approved, innovative new technique for breast cancer screening.

3D mammography is more formally known as digital breast tomosynthesis or DBT. This exam finds abnormalities that cannot be seen or felt by you or your doctor. Most of these abnormalities are not cancer, but they must be further investigated by a radiologist.

3D mammograms use low dose x-rays to create a three dimensional image of the breast. The scanner rotates partially around the breast and takes images from many different angles (typically 10 to 15). The breast must be compressed as it is with a conventional mammogram. Despite taking more images, 3D mammography does not require any more radiation than a conventional mammogram. After all images are taken, sophisticated computer programs assemble them into a three dimensional representation of the breast. The radiologist can then view the breast tissue in narrow slices, similarly to CT scan images.

With conventional mammography, which is two-dimensional, overlapping tissue can mask suspicious areas. Since thin layers of breast tissue are viewed with 3D mammography, the overlap is removed and abnormalities are much easier to recognize. Studies have shown improved tissue identification, improved tumor visualization, and a lower recall rate for additional testing. Because of this, 3D mammography has the potential to improve on the accuracy of mammograms.

While conventional mammography continues to be the primary screening method for breast cancer, experts estimate that 3D mammography will replace it within ten years. Large trials are currently being conducted to determine the feasibility. The results of one 3D mammography trial, reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association, confirm that it finds more invasive cancers and reduces unnecessary callbacks.

Like conventional mammograms, 3D mammograms do not prevent breast cancer. They will help a doctor find cancer much earlier. 3D mammography can identify a lump up to two years before it will become large enough for you to feel it. By finding breast cancer early, a woman’s chances of survival are higher and she may have more treatment options available to her. When breast cancer is found early, the five year survival rate is greater than 95%. Additionally, finding breast cancer early enables more women to select treatment options that allow them to keep their breasts.

Risks Involved in a 3D Mammogram

There is the risk of x-ray exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects.

Since 3D mammography, like many medical exams, is not 100% accurate, there is the risk that the breast cancer may not be seen on the exam results.

Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation


Contact your personal physician for a referral for this exam. Then call 720-493-3700 to schedule.

Insurance Coverage

3D mammography is now usually covered by insurance. Check with your insurance company to be sure. If your insurance company will cover the exam, please bring your insurance card with you.

Please call us at 720-493-3793 if you would like a price quote for this exam. Invision Sally Jobe requires payment for the exam at the time it is received.

Conditions to Let Us Know About

In advance of your exam, let your scheduler or technologist know if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Currently pregnant or breastfeeding
  • New lumps or changes in your breasts (i.e. nipple discharge)

Preparation Guidelines

Following are the general preparation instructions for 3D mammogram. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation. Please contact us at 720-493-3700 if you have any questions.

  • Do not use deodorant, powder, perfumes, or creams under your arms or on or around your breasts (or be prepared to wash them off before the exam).
  • Wear an outfit with a separate top and bottom.
  • Bring any conventional or 3D mammography images and reports you have that were not done at an Invision Sally Jobe center.
  • If your breasts are extremely sensitive, schedule your 3D mammogram at a time when your breasts are least sensitive.
  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time.

What to Expect

During the Exam

Here is generally what will happen during a 3D mammogram:

  1. You will disrobe from the waist up and put on a robe. You may use a secure locker for your personal items during your exam.
  2. The technologist will position your breast on a platform and then compress the breast with a paddle. This will even out the breast so that all of the breast tissue can be better visualized.
  3. Numerous views of the breast will be taken without you needing to be repositioned.
  4. The technologist will position and compress your second breast and images will be taken.
  5. You will change back into your clothes.

This exam usually takes about fifteen minutes.

After the Exam


You can return to your normal activities immediately after your exam.

Exam Results

A board-certified radiologist experienced in the interpretation of 3D mammography will analyze the data and results from your exam. If you had a previous conventional or 3D mammogram at Invision Sally Jobe, the radiologist may compare your new images with your previous images to check for changes in your breasts. The results will be reported to your physician and sent to you in a letter.

During the exam, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the exam itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your exam.

Download and learn

Learn more about our mammogram screening services, and how we can help you by downloading our 3D Breast Cancer screening brochure.


3D Mammography

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