Is a 3D Mammogram Better than an MRI?

October 16, 2018 – 3 min read

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3d mammogam or mri

Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer faced by women in the United States. Tragically, one in eight women face this disease at some point in their lives, and early detection is the best way to reduce the potential harm and risk of death related to breast cancer. New imaging tests are also helping to improve outcomes. Wondering about the difference between a 3D mammogram and an MRI? Here’s what you need to know.


What Is a 3D Mammogram?

Also called breast tomosynthesis, a 3D mammogram was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011. For patients, the process of getting a 3D mammogram is very similar to a traditional mammogram. However, the results are much more detailed.

While a traditional mammogram creates two images of each breast (a side-to-side view and a top-to-bottom image), a 3D mammogram creates a variety of images from all angles. Both tests can detect lumps and tumors, but 3D mammogram is especially helpful for women who have dense breast tissue or who have a heightened risk of facing breast cancer due to family history of the disease.


What Is an MRI for Breast Cancer Screening?

Short for magnetic resonance imaging, an MRI is an imaging tool used to detect a wide range of internal issues. Recently, medical professionals have even started to use MRIs to detect breast cancer. MRIs are especially useful in cases where women have a known or suspected genetic mutation. In those situations, an MRI is able to detect cancer with more sensitivity than most mammograms.

Beyond diagnosis, MRIs are extremely useful for assessing how the body is responding to neoadjuvant chemotherapy, medications to shrink the tumor and increase the chance of successful operations. Additionally, when patients have axillary adenopathy, a number of benign and malignant bodies may be present in the breast tissue. This issue can be exacerbated by infection or trauma to the area. If medical professionals are having trouble identifying the primary tumor, a breast MRI can help.


Do You Need a 3D Mammogram or an MRI?

At this point, you may be wondering which test is best for you. If you’re simply going in for a routine breast cancer screening, a mammogram may work perfectly, but a 3D mammogram is likely to yield better results. However, if you have a family history of breast cancer or if you have had breast cancer in the past, you may want to consider an MRI instead. Some patients have gone through both mammograms and 3D mammograms with no issues detected, but when they went for an MRI, the cancer was found.

Again, early detection is essential. When you talk to your doctor, they can let you know which tests are best for your situation.


At American Health Imaging, we offer MRIs as well as many other imaging tests. If you are a patient, contact us directly to make an appointment. If you are a doctor who wants to refer a patient, you can also contact us to set up an appointment for your patient. We have some of the best imaging technology in the area plus skilled imaging technicians, and our tests can help you safeguard your health.