Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography)

Pioneered at Massachusetts General Hospital, breast tomosynthesis, also called 3D mammography, is an advanced type of mammogram that can offer better cancer detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind.

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What is Breast Tomosynthesis?

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

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Read the August 2014 issue of our clinical newsletter, Radiology Rounds, about the data on breast tomosynthesis.

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read the latest study

In June 2014, JAMA published a study of over 450,000 exams that linked the addition of breast tomosynthesis to digital mammography with a decrease in recall rate and an increase in cancer detection rate.

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Request a Mammogram with Breast Tomosynthesis

What is Breast Tomosynthesis?

Breast tomosynthesis is a breakthrough in mammography that uses advanced imaging technology to produce a 3D image of the breast. It provides a clearer, more accurate view compared to digital mammography alone.

Research on breast tomosynthesis in large populations consistently shows:

  • improved breast cancer detection rates, especially invasive cancers
  • a decrease in call backs, which may lessen anxiety for patients

A New Dimension in Breast Cancer Detection

Conventional digital mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, making it difficult to detect cancers. Performed with digital mammography using the same scanner, breast tomosynthesis takes multiple images and reconstructs them to create a 3D view of the entire breast.

Using breast tomosynthesis, our specialized breast radiologists can see areas of concern from all angles. Benefits can include:

  • Earlier detection of small breast cancers that may be hidden during digital 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
  • Clearer images of dense breast tissue

At Mass General Imaging, breast tomosynthesis plus digital mammography is standard protocol for all screening mammograms.

Breast Cancer Screening by Specialists

The Breast Imaging Division at Mass General includes a team of specialized breast radiologists from the Department of Radiology who are experts in detecting breast lesions through the use of mammography, ultrasound and MRI. Part of the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center on the Mass General main campus, it is one of the nation's largest breast-imaging teams.

Milestones in Innovation

  • 1992: Mass General Breast Imaging team begins pioneering research into breast tomosynthesis
  • February 11, 2011: Breast tomosynthesis is approved by FDA
  • March 7, 2011: Mass General Breast Imaging team performs the first clinical breast tomosynthesis exam in the United States
  • 2014: Mass General Breast Imaging Division adopts breast tomosynthesis plus digital mammography as standard protocol for all mammograms

Emphasis on Safety

Ensuring patient safety is our top priority. We pay special attention to minimizing radiation exposure while producing the highest quality image to answer the clinical question. As part of this commitment, we invest in the latest equipment to ensure that our fleet of scanners consistently delivers the lowest dose of radiation possible during an exam.

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.