October 31st, 2022, 12:00 AM

3D mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, is the latest FDA-approved advancement in finding breast cancer when it is most treatable. It takes 15 images in an arcing pattern above the breast, providing the radiologist with multiple thin-sectioned images.

The imaging allows them to review the breast tissue layer by layer rather than having one above picture and one from the side, like in a 2D scan. These images can be transformed and viewed into multiple non-overlapping thin slices. Such a wide range of photos makes the breast tissue clearer and can uncover breast cancers that might have previously been hidden by overlying breast tissue. 

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer doesn't always have prominent symptoms, so it is recommended to get regular screenings. Some signs to look out for include the following:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  • Pain in the area of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Pain in any area of the breast
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast

If you have any of these symptoms, please be sure to see your doctor right away. These symptoms don't always indicate breast cancer, but it is safer to have things checked so treatment can be more effective in the early stages of cancer.

Breast Self-Exam

A breast self-exam (BSE) should be done at least each month. There are two main components to the BSE: visual inspection and palpation inspection.

Visual Inspection

Start by standing and facing a mirror. Keep your arms at your side and turn side to side. You will be looking for discharge, scaling of the nipple, dimpling or redness of the skin, and changes in the size and shape of the breast. Now you will raise your arms above your head and continue in the same motion of turning from side to side.

The second half of the exam starts by placing your hands palm to palm and pressing them together until you feel your chest muscles tighten. Again, look for any changes in your breast tissue. Lastly, put your hands on your hips, bow slightly towards the mirror, and push your shoulders and elbows forward.

Palpation Inspection

The palpation inspection has two steps: lying down and standing up.

Start by laying down flat on your back with your left arm raised over your head with a pillow under your left shoulder. This position allows the breast to flatten and makes it easier to examine. Proceed to use the pads of your fingers on your right hand to examine your breast. Firmly roll the tissue between your fingers and ribs.

Repeat the above steps on the right side. You will be feeling for any types of lumps that stand out or masses you have never felt before. 

The second step to the palpation involves standing up. Press the flat parts of your fingers in small circles at the outer edge of where your collarbone and chest bone meet. Move your fingers up and down the breast.

Now gradually work across the nipple, being sure to check the entire breast for abnormalities. Pay special attention to the area between the breast and the underarm. These areas can also get lumps and masses that are typically overlooked by an at-home exam. Continue these steps on the right breast to end your examination. 

Breast Cancer Awareness with Arnot Health

Arnot has both 2D and 3D mammography available for women who have found abnormalities or are coming in for frequent checks. Both mammograms give insight into what is going on within the body, so having these checks done is extremely important. To learn more about the importance of mammograms, watch this video. Heather Fay goes into more detail about the different machine's Arnot Health has for screenings. Don't miss the signs, get ahead of breast cancer by taking the proper steps.

Knowing your family's history for breast cancer is essential to how many times you get screened a year. If breast cancer is frequent in your family, you should schedule a 2D or 3D mammography at least once a year. Even if breast cancer does not run in your family, it is still important to get screened and do self-checks regularly.

If there is ever any concern, don't hesitate to contact your doctor so you can get the proper treatment. 

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