Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography)

Pioneered at Massachusetts General Hospital, breast tomosynthesis, also called 3D mammography, is a new type of mammogram that produces a three dimensional image of the breast and improves cancer screening and detection.


What is Breast Tomosynthesis?

Learn more about breast tomosynthesis, also called 3D mammography.

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Map and directions

Request a Breast Tomosynthesis Appointment

What is Breast Tomosynthesis?

Breast tomosynthesis is the latest breakthrough in mammography. It provides a clearer, more accurate view of the breast and allows doctors to more effectively pinpoint the size, shape and location of any abnormalities. This can lead to better detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind.

A New Dimension in Breast Cancer Detection

Conventional 2D mammography produces a single, flattened image of the breast, making it difficult for doctors to detect small cancers. Breast tomosynthesis minimizes the impact of overlapping breast tissue during imaging because the camera moves over the breast taking images from multiple angles. These images are combined to create a three dimensional rendering of the entire breast. At this time, breast tomosynthesis is performed along with a standard mammogram on the same scanner.

With breast tomosynthesis, our specialized breast radiologists can manipulate the images to see areas of concern from all angles. The benefits of 3D mammography include:

  • Earlier detection of small breast cancers that may be hidden during 2D mammography
  • Greater accuracy in pinpointing size, shape and location of abnormalities
  • Fewer unnecessary biopsies or additional tests
  • Greater likelihood of detecting multiple breast tumors, which occur in 15% of breast cancer patients

Breast Cancer Screening at Mass General

The Breast Imaging Program includes a team of 12 dedicated radiologists from the Mass General Department of Radiology who are experts in detecting breast lesions through the use of digital mammography, ultrasound and MRI.

Part of the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center on the Mass General main campus, this group is one of the nation's largest breast-imaging teams.

Milestones in Innovation

  • 1992: Mass General Breast Imaging team begins pioneering research into 3D mammography
  • February 11, 2011: 3D mammography is approved by FDA
  • March 7, 2011: Mass General Breast Imaging team performs the first clinical breast tomosynthesis exam in the United States


Emphasis on safety

Our commitment to safety extends through everything we do, from exam-room procedures to leading-edge research. We pay special attention to minimizing radiation exposure—without giving up image quality. We employ physicists and engineers to calibrate and maintain our equipment at the highest level, and we invest to replace outmoded equipment and bring the latest technology to our patients.

All Mass General facilities for mammography are licensed and accredited by the American College of Radiology, the FDA and the Radiation Control Program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health.



Schedule a screening mammogram appointment

Fill out a simple online form to request an appointment for an annual mammogram.


Listen to the podcast: 3D mammography gains momentum

Learn more about 3D mammography in this podcast featuring Harvard Medical School Instructor of Radiology Phoebe Freer.