A mammogram is an imaging study of the breast, used to detect breast abnormalities that may signal cancer. At one time, all mammograms were performed with film-based cameras, but now, almost all mammograms are performed with digital equipment. From the patient's perspective, there's no difference, and current evidence indicates both film-based and digital mammography provide good quality images. However, digital mammograms are stored as computer files and can be linked to an electronic medical record (EMR).
2D and 3D mammograms are performed with the same technology. Although it takes a few seconds longer for a 3D view, it is otherwise no different from the patient's perspective. 2D mammograms take images from the front and side; 3D images are done in “slices” from many different angles. 3D technology may increase the change of finding abnormalities because of the multiple angles, but it may also be more expensive and you may have a higher co-payment.
As a relatively new technology, 3D mammograms may not be available in all areas. Palm Beach Obstetrics and Gynecology, however, does offer 3D mammography on site. You have the option to combine your regular well-woman exams with a mammogram at the same visit.
There is evidence that 3D mammography may reduce patient call-backs to recheck an area in the breast. Since all mammography involves radiation, decreasing radiation exposure is certainly desirable. There are also indications that 3D mammography may be better for women with very dense breasts; dense breasts make it harder to see abnormalities. However, much of the research combined both 2D and 3D rather than looking at just 3D alone. Discuss this issue with your doctor so you can make the decision that's best for your particular situation.