Published on September 30, 2019

3D Mammograms Now at MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena

Photo of a patient having a 3D Mammogram at MidMichigan Medical Center - Alpena.Patients in the northeast Michigan now have access to new technology that improves breast cancer detection while reducing false positives. MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena is now offering 3D mammography, also known as Digital Breast Tomosynthesis. It is also available at the Center for Women’s Health on the campus of MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland and the MidMichigan Medical Centers in Clare, Gratiot and Mt. Pleasant.

This new technique uses the same digital mammography equipment as a regular mammogram, but captures additional layers of low-dose images through the breasts. It takes just a few seconds more than a regular mammogram. A regular digital screening mammography captures only two images of each breast, while the 3D technology captures many more images allowing the radiologists to visualize masses from normal breast tissue more clearly.

“Research has shown that using breast tomosynthesis in large populations result in improved cancer detection rates and fewer call backs for additional imaging,” said Ben Eggleston, M.D., radiologist at MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena. “Therefore, the benefits include earlier detection of small breast cancers that may be ‘hidden’ using conventional mammography, better characterization of a mass, fewer unnecessary biopsies or additional tests and a better way to assess patients with dense breast tissue.”

“All patients who need mammograms can benefit from this technology regardless of their breast density,” said Dr. Eggleston. “Patients who schedule mammograms in Alpena will automatically be asked if they would like a 3D mammogram in addition to traditional mammography views. They do not need a special physician order to have 3D views.”

Most insurance plans now cover routine screening mammograms for eligible patients at no cost to the patient as part of their preventive benefits. A growing number of plans will also cover the additional charges to capture the extra 3D images when a regular mammogram is already covered. However, MidMichigan encourages patients to check with their insurance plan for specific coverage details.

“It’s important that women starting at the age of 40 make a mammogram part of their annual physical even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer,” said Lindsay M. Zeeb, M.D., a radiologist at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. “Women with a strong family history of pre-menopausal breast cancer, or who have inherited a gene strongly associated with breast cancer such as BRCA1, BRCA2, should begin screening mammograms earlier than age 40 and should discuss this with their physicians.”

“Simply put ‘Mammography saves lives’,” said Dr. Zeeb. “Yearly mammograms can detect cancer early when it is most treatable. Mammograms can show changes in the breast before they can be felt as a lump and also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers and the improved chances of breast conservation.”

Those interested in more information about this new technology may visit www.midmichigan.org/3dmamm. Patients who would like to schedule a mammogram at MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena should obtain a mammogram order from their doctor and then call (989) 356-8001 for an appointment.