Let's Talk: What's the Difference Between Standard and 3D Mammograms?

We’ve all been flooded with mammogram advice from well-meaning friends and family. But what age should you start screening mammograms—and should you have a standard (2D) or 3D mammogram? Turns out, the answer lies in your breast density. Read on to learn more. 

Mammograms: standard 2D vs. 3D

“With standard 2D imaging, the breast is compressed in two positions and a single image is taken of each breast in each position,” says Dr. Jennifer Manders, breast surgeon at The Christ Hospital. “If the tissue is dense, then it can be hard to differentiate a mass from normal dense tissue.”

For women with dense breasts, 3D mammograms can provide a clearer picture and a clearer overall picture of breast health. 

“If we take multiple images at different depths within the breast, while compressed in each position,” says Dr. Manders. “the software can align the images to appear as though we are scanning through a three dimensional structure. This really helps to interpret the images more clearly.” 

Dr. Manders says it’s likely that your breast tissue will still be dense when you start having annual mammograms—making a 3D mammogram a better option. Ask your OBGYN for their opinion on whether a 2D or 3D mammogram is the best choice for your breasts. 

Women's health experts at The Christ Hospital stand in front of a brick wall wearing white coats, for Let's Talk series.

Breast health: important tips to remember 

Our breasts are three-dimensional, which means self-exams are still the best first step for breast health. Starting in your late teen years, take time each month to do a comprehensive breast exam at home and schedule a yearly clinical breast exam with your OBGYN. If you note anything unusual during your self-exams, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. It’s usually nothing—but early detection is key with breast cancer.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends an annual screening mammogram for women beginning at age 40. Women with family histories of breast cancer should work closely with their OBGYN to determine a breast cancer screening schedule. 

The general rule of thumb is to take your loved one’s age at diagnosis and subtract ten years to determine when you should start annual mammograms. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 42, you should start getting mammograms at age 32.

We offer online appointment scheduling for routine screening mammograms. If you have specific breast concerns like a lump or discharge, please call 513-585-2668 to discuss your needs with our scheduler to ensure you get the most appropriate test at one of our seven convenient mammogram locations around the Tristate
Jennifer Manders, MD, breast surgeon at The Christ Hospital, in front of a brick wall.

​Dr. Manders is a board-certified general surgeon and member of The American College of Surgeons, American Society of Breast Surgeons and American Society of Clinical Oncologists.  Dr. Manders has been named a Top Doctor by Cincinnati Magazine and is currently the President Elect of the Medical Staff at The Christ Hospital Health Network. 

Let's Talk: What's the Difference Between Standard and 3D Mammograms? In this “Let’s Talk” webisode, Dr. Jennifer Manders discusses the purpose of standard 2D vs 3D mammograms, which one might be best for you, and other breast health tips.
We’ve all been flooded with mammogram advice from well-meaning friends and family. But what age should you start screening mammograms—and should you have a standard (2D) or 3D mammogram? Turns out, the answer lies in your breast density. Read on to learn more. 

Mammograms: standard 2D vs. 3D

“With standard 2D imaging, the breast is compressed in two positions and a single image is taken of each breast in each position,” says Dr. Jennifer Manders, breast surgeon at The Christ Hospital. “If the tissue is dense, then it can be hard to differentiate a mass from normal dense tissue.”

For women with dense breasts, 3D mammograms can provide a clearer picture and a clearer overall picture of breast health. 

“If we take multiple images at different depths within the breast, while compressed in each position,” says Dr. Manders. “the software can align the images to appear as though we are scanning through a three dimensional structure. This really helps to interpret the images more clearly.” 

Dr. Manders says it’s likely that your breast tissue will still be dense when you start having annual mammograms—making a 3D mammogram a better option. Ask your OBGYN for their opinion on whether a 2D or 3D mammogram is the best choice for your breasts. 

Women's health experts at The Christ Hospital stand in front of a brick wall wearing white coats, for Let's Talk series.

Breast health: important tips to remember 

Our breasts are three-dimensional, which means self-exams are still the best first step for breast health. Starting in your late teen years, take time each month to do a comprehensive breast exam at home and schedule a yearly clinical breast exam with your OBGYN. If you note anything unusual during your self-exams, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. It’s usually nothing—but early detection is key with breast cancer.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends an annual screening mammogram for women beginning at age 40. Women with family histories of breast cancer should work closely with their OBGYN to determine a breast cancer screening schedule. 

The general rule of thumb is to take your loved one’s age at diagnosis and subtract ten years to determine when you should start annual mammograms. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 42, you should start getting mammograms at age 32.

We offer online appointment scheduling for routine screening mammograms. If you have specific breast concerns like a lump or discharge, please call 513-585-2668 to discuss your needs with our scheduler to ensure you get the most appropriate test at one of our seven convenient mammogram locations around the Tristate
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The Christ Hosptial