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3D Mammography

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MultiCare Health System Now Offers 3D Tomosynthesis

Scheduling Your Appointment

Centralized Scheduling for your convenience
Imaging Services Scheduling Department

Phone: 253-792-6220
Toll Free: 866-268-7223
Fax: 253-792-6230
Mon-Friday: 7:30am - 9:00pm
Sat-Sun & Holidays: 8:00am - 5:30pm

Mammography Scheduling for Gig Harbor Medical Park - Auburn MultiCare Health Center - Covington MultiCare Clinic

See all locations where mammograms are offered for Breast Health Services.

Whether it’s time for your annual breast cancer screening, or your provider has asked you to get a diagnostic mammogram, 3D Mammography offers a number of benefits.

What is 3D Mammography / Tomosynthesis?

Digital tomosynthesis is a 3-Dimensional image formed with the use of x-ray.  Breast tomosynthesis is a 3D image of the breast and will seem very much like a standard mammogram to you, in fact the standard 2D image obtained in a traditional mammogram is done in conjunction with and at the same time as this procedure. Breast tomosynthesis takes only a few seconds longer than a traditional mammogram, approximately 7 seconds from beginning to end for each image. Breast tomosynthesis does differ from a traditional mammogram however, because it is three dimensional, creating an image more like a ball than a circle. This is the very latest in breast health procedures, and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. If you are a woman aged 40 or older, you can have a 3D tomosynthesis procedure without a written referral from your health care provider as long as it is your routine annual screening mammogram. 
What are the Advantages of Tomosynthesis?
Breast tomosynthesis has revolutionized breast imaging. While traditional mammograms have been a very good diagnostic tool allowing for early detection of cancer, this detects the cancer earlier still and addresses some of the limitations of traditional mammograms. With 2D digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all the complexities of the breast tissue in one flat image. Tissues can overlap, giving the illusion of normal tissue looking abnormal. In 3D mammography (Tomosynthesis), high-powered computing (similar to CT scans) is used to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or ‘slices’, building what is essentially a ‘3-dimensional mammogram’. This allows the radiologist to examine breast tissue detail one slice at a time to help find breast cancer at its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.

A good analogy for 3D mammography is thinking about the pages in a book. If you look down at the cover, you can’t see all of the individual pages. But, when you open the book, you can go through the entire book page-by-page to see everything between the covers.
3D Tomosynthesis, used in screening mammography has been proven to reduce ‘call-backs’ or false positives by up to 40%. And it has been shown to improve the detection of cancer by 10-30% over traditional mammography.
Before Your Appointment

You can minimize your discomfort from breast compression by:

  • Scheduling your examination one week following your menstrual cycle
  • Eliminating coffee, tea or caffeinated products five days prior to your exam
  • Taking a non-aspirin pain reliever such as Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Motrin/Advil (Ibuprofen), or Aleve (Naproxen) one hour before your examination

Tell your mammogram technologist if:

  • You’ve had previous mammograms at other locations
  • You’re nursing or if you think you could be pregnant
  • You have breast implants, so that extra time may be allotted
  • You’ve had any recent breast surgeries or biopsies
  • You have a personal history of breast cancer

The entire exam should take approximately 30 minutes. Please arrive 15 minutes before your exam and be sure to remove any powder, perfumes, deodorant and/or lotions from your underarms and breasts before your appointment.

Mammograms with Breast Implants
If you have breast implants your mammogram will require special positioning and additional mammographic views: usually four views of each breast, including one from above, one from the side and two displacement views. Because your implants make your mammograms harder to read, it’s particularly important that you examine your breasts each month, and get regular clinical physical examinations and digital screenings.
What are Screening Mammograms Like?
For your comfort, your mammogram will always be performed in private by a certified female technologist with advanced training in mammography. Before your exam she will ask you to undress from the waist up, change into a gown provided for you and remove any powder, deodorant and / or perfumes from your underarms and breasts. Material in these products can show up on the mammogram and interfere with accurate imaging of your breast tissue. For your convenience, towelettes and deodorant wipes are provided at your exam.

Typically, a screening mammogram consists of two views of each breast, one from above and one from the side. Images are obtained by compressing your breast tissue between a compression paddle and plate. Adequate compression is essential to detect subtle abnormalities and reduce radiation expose. The compression may be briefly uncomfortable, especially if your breasts are tender
What is a Diagnostic Mammogram?
If you are experiencing symptoms such as changes in the size or shape of one of your breasts, you have discovered a lump in a breast or swelling near the armpit, or have noticed a change in or discharge from a nipple your doctor will likely order a diagnostic mammogram. While pain in a breast is not a common symptom of cancer, it too may warrant this exam. Additionally, if your radiologist sees something abnormal on your screening mammogram, you will be asked to return for a follow up diagnostic mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram is used to get a closer look at any abnormality, to rule out cancer. If it is unable to do so, a breast ultrasound or MRI may be ordered. 
Does It Mean I Have Cancer If My Mammogram Result is Abnormal?

With 3D tomosynthesis and digital mammography radiologists are seeing more details than ever before. It is not uncommon to get called back for an additional look, but with tomosynthesis, this chance is lowered. A vast majority of breast abnormalities are benign (not cancer). The images are noting natural changes that occur with age. Keep in mind, however, that every abnormality should be taken seriously.

Gathering of all the information necessary to make a thorough interpretation from an imaging study can take time. All abnormalities found in breast tissue require careful evaluation. Additional views of the breast may be required and different examinations or procedures - such as breast ultrasound, breast MRI, or image-guided breast biopsy – may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis.
How Will I Get the Results of My Mammogram?
Your mammogram and any additional studies will be carefully examined by a board – certified radiologist. Your findings will be promptly forwarded to your health care provider. A letter briefly explaining the results will be mailed to your address. It is important to follow up with your health care provider. The results of this examination will be compared to your overall health status, which only your health care provider can assess for you.
I've Been Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Now What?

At MultiCare we offer a Nurse Navigator program as a resource to help you navigate through the complexity of a breast cancer diagnosis and other breast health issues.  From treatment information to side effects, our nurse navigator will work with you and your physician to manage your care every step of the way. 

To schedule an appointment with a nurse navigator, please call 253-372.7240 or 253-372-7293.

How to Prepare for Your Mammogram
Following these tips may reduce discomfort from breast compression:
  • Schedule your examination one week following your menstrual cycle.
  • Eliminate coffee, tea or caffeinated products five days prior to your exam.
  • Take a non-aspirin pain reliever such as Tylenol (Acetaminophen)m Motrin/Advil (Ibuprofen), or Aleve (Naproxen) one hour before your examination.
When you schedule your appointment let us know if:
  • You have had previous mammograms at other locations.  We will compare them to your new images.
  • You are nursing or if you think you could be pregnant.  Your doctor may postpone your mammogram.
  • You have breast implants so that extra time may be allotted.
  • You have had any recent breast surgeries or biopsies.
  • You have or have had a personal history of breast cancer. 
To Avoid Delay or Rescheduling of Your Mammogram
For your safety and the safety of your children please make arrangements for someone to care for them during your scheduled appointment time. If you are unable to find care for your children please call and reschedule your appointment.

  • Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to register for your exam.
  • Plan for at least 30 additional minutes to complete the entire exam process.
  • Remove any powder, perfumes, deodorant and / or lotions from your underarms and breasts.
  • Moist towelettes are provided and deodorant is available to reapply after your exam.

MultiCare Breast Health Achieves Ninth Straight Year of Perfect National Inspections

MultiCare’s breast health centers received their ninth consecutive perfect review from the FDA’s Mammography Quality Standards Program.

The annual review is part of a nationwide program to “ensure that all women have access to quality mammography for the detection of breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages,” according to the FDA’s Web site.

The FDA found that MultiCare Auburn Health Center, Covington MultiCare Clinic and MultiCare Gig Harbor Medical Park meet all national guidelines for mammography.

ACR Accredited Mammography
MultiCare Health System is proud of its accreditation by the American College of Radiology at all of our mammography facilities and all sites are certified by the FDA Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992.