Contrast Enhanced Or 3D Mammography? Here’s What You Need To Know

Getting screened for breast cancer is as important as standard check-ups at your physicians office. This preventive measure can help ease your mind, and help catch anything potentially dangerous in its early stages. Technology is now changing the way we go about mammograms by making them more accurate and much more likely to detect anything abnormal.

Contrast Enhanced Digital Mammography

Mammography has proven to be an integral in finding and preventing the spread of breast cancer. In a traditional screening the ability for detection ranges between sixty and ninety percent, depending on the density of a patient’s breast tissue.

What that means is that for particularly dense breasts 4 out of 10 cancers can go undetected, and are only discovered once they’ve grown to a stage that is detectable. Enhancements in these imaging processes are now turning the tables on this statistic, and making it so detection rates are even more reliable.

Contrast enhanced mammography has a much higher sensitivity and detection range than traditional methods. The rate of detection is nearly one hundred percent in some cases. It has been shown to be able to detect up to 15 additional cancer types in a study performed with a thousand female participants. These women were chosen because of their elevated risk factors, in addition to their previously normal mammogram results conducted with standard methods.

The reason this type of screening is capable of detecting more abnormalities associated with cancer is due in large part to the contrast used. The addition of contrast in these MRI scans is able to detect issues that wouldn’t have been visible otherwise. This not only makes it more accurate, but makes it vastly superior to the traditional methods that it is quickly out pacing.

The American Cancer Society has even recommended that contrast enhanced mammography be offered in addition to the standard mammogram, especially in cases where the patient has elevated risk factors, or if anything abnormal has been detected. Even if contrast enhanced mammography isn’t performed alongside ever mammogram, it serves as a good second opinion if there are any doubts.

3D Mammography

In addition to contrast enhanced mammography, 3D mammography is another reliable option that is available. This type of screening uses x-rays to image the breasts and see if there are any detectable abnormalities. Unlike traditional mammograms 3D imaging is able to capture a more detailed picture of the breasts internal tissue, making it easier to see anything out of the ordinary.

The 3D image works in ‘slices’, and at different angles. This way there is a lower change of anything being overlooked or missed. Once all sections are individually photographed, they are put together in the computer to produce a functional 3D image. This can help doctors see everything in detail, and makes it easier to see any lumps, growths, or potential tumors. Aside from contrast enhanced imaging, this is definitely another alternative to keep in mind when it comes to reliability.


When it comes to being screened for breast cancer, especially if you have higher risk factors, you don’t want to take unnecessary chances with your health. Knowing your options and opting for more accurate and in depth tests can make all the difference if something is detected. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor what they would recommend, and if they would refer you to an imaging specialist.

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