Frequently Asked Questions

At OSF HealthCare, our breast health experts are here to help ease your fears. We won't let you stand alone.

Below you'll find a list of frequently asked questions about our services, breast health, and testing procedures.

3D Mammography

What is a 3D mammography breast exam?

3D mammography is a new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection that can be done in conjunction with a traditional 2D digital mammogram. This oftentimes is referred to as breast tomosynthesis.

During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple breast images instead of one straight-down picture. Then, a computer produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter slices, providing greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail in a way never before possible. They can scroll through images of your entire breast like pages of a book.

What should I expect during the 3D mammography exam?

3D mammography complements standard 2D mammography and is performed at the same time with the same system. There is no additional compression required, and it only takes a few seconds longer for each view.

What are the benefits of 3D mammography?

The additional 3D images make it possible for a radiologist to gain a better understanding of your breast tissue during a screening1 or diagnostic mammogram and the confidence to reduce the need for follow-up imaging.

Who can have a 3D mammography exam?

It is approved for all women who would be undergoing a standard mammogram, in both the screening and diagnostic settings.

Is there more radiation than a normal mammogram?

This very new exam is a voluntary addition to a regular mammogram. It cannot be done by itself, but must be performed along with your regular 2D mammogram. Adding tomosynthesis increases the amount of radiation but is still well within the FDA regulated limit for mammography. If you have concerns about radiation exposure, please talk with your mammography technologist, radiologist or provider who can give you additional information.


Why is there a need for tomosynthesis breast exams?

With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all the complexities of your breast tissue in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion of normal breast tissue looking like an abnormal area.

By looking at the breast tissue in one millimeter slices, the radiologist can provide a more confident assessment. 1 In this way, 3D mammography can find cancers missed with conventional 2D mammography.

What is a Breast Self-Exam (BSE)?

Women over the age of 20 should examine their own breasts each month.  Being aware of what the tissue feels like will help a woman find changes.

Not all changes mean cancer, but they should be reported to your health care provider for follow up.

What is a Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)?

When a trained health care provider examines your breasts, it is called a Clinical Breast Exam.

Their experience and knowledge assists them in detecting potential problems. Women over 20 should have a CBE every three years until age 40.

At age 40, CBE's should become a yearly routine.

What is a Sentinel Node Biopsy?

A Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy is a surgery that takes out lymph node tissue to look for cancer.