Breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography, provides better cancer detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind. 

Pioneered at Mass General, breast tomosynthesis is an advanced type of mammogaphy that provides a clearer, more accurate view compared to digital mammography alone.

Conventional digital mammography takes one image of overlapping breast tissue, making it difficult to see cancer. Breast tomosynthesis takes many images of the entire breast. It lets our breast radiologists see through layers of tissue and examine areas of concern from all angles. Breast tomosynthesis plus digital mammography has been our standard protocol for all screening mammograms since 2014.

Benefits of Breast Tomosynthesis

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

Other 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 breasts

Milestones in Innovation 

  • 1992: The breast imaging team at Mass General begins pioneering research into breast tomosynthesis
  • February 2011: Breast tomosynthesis is approved by FDA
  • March 2011: The breast imaging team at Mass General does the first clinical breast tomosynthesis exam in the US
  • 2014: The Mass General Division of Breast Imaging adopts breast tomosynthesis plus digital mammography as standard protocol for all mammograms

Breast Tomosynthesis in Action

This short video of shows how our breast radiologists can scroll through the layers of breast tissue to get a better look at the entire breast.