From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Women's Health

What you need to know about 3-D mammography

Diagnostic Radiologist, Pitts Radiology and Palmetto Health Breast Center
You may have heard of 3-D mammography, but are unsure how it’s different than standard 2-D mammography. More importantly, you may be unsure if 3-D mammography is right for you. Here are five things you should know about 3-D mammography:

What is 3-D mammography? 

A three-dimensional (3-D) mammogram, also known as breast tomosynthesis, is the newest FDA-approved technology for breast imaging. It produces a 3-D picture of your breast by taking several X-rays from different angles. A computer turns these X-rays into 3-D images using technology similar to a CT scan.

What is the advantage of 3-D mammography?     

Research shows that for women with dense breast tissue or strong risk factors for developing breast cancer, 3-D mammography provides improved visualization and the following patient benefits compared to 2-D mammography:
  • Detects 41 percent more invasive breast cancers1
  • Detects cancers 15 months earlier2
  • Reduces false positive readings by up to 40 percent1

How do I know if I have dense breasts?

After your annual screening mammogram (using either 2-D or 3-D technology), your imaging provider will notify you by letter if you have dense breasts. At Palmetto Health Breast Center, we encourage patients who have dense breasts to talk with their physicians so they can make an informed decision about the need for 3-D mammography at their next annual screening mammogram.

Does a 3-D mammogram feel any different?

A 3-D mammogram will feel just like a 2-D mammogram. It requires the same number of X-rays and the same amount of compression as a 2-D mammogram.

Does insurance cover 3-D mammography?

Currently Medicare and some commercial insurance plans cover 3-D mammography. We encourage patients to contact your insurance plan before your next screening mammogram to learn about your plan benefits. 
All women should begin regular screening mammography at age 40, or younger if they have a family history of breast cancer. To learn more, visit 

  1. Friedewald SM, Rafferty EA, Rose SL, Durand MA, Plecha DM, Greenberg JS, Hayes MK, Copit DS, Carlson KL, Cink TM, Barke LD, Greer LN, Miller DP, Conant EF. “Breast Cancer Screening Using Tomosynthesis in Combination With Digital Mammography.” JAMA Oncology; 2014;311(24):2499–2507. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.6095
  2. McDonald ES, Oustimov A, Weinstein SP et al. “Effectiveness of Digital Breast Tomosynthesis Compared with Digital Mammography: Outcomes Analysis From 3 Years of Breast Cancer Screening.” JAMA Oncology; published online Feb 16, 2016

Make an appointment

Knowing how busy women and moms are today, each of our four Breast Center locations offers early morning and late afternoon hours for breast imaging procedures. To make an appointment, call us at 803-296-8888.

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