Breast cancer is a bully who’s willing to pick a fight with just about anyone. Almost everyone knows someone affected by the disease, making every day the perfect day to talk about early detection, the differences in screening technology and what else you can do to reduce your risk.

2D Versus 3D Mammography

When you go for your mammogram, you have the option to choose between 2D and 3D imaging. What’s the difference?

A 2-dimensional mammogram is the standard of care, or the traditional screening. It captures images from two angles. The newer technology is called breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography. This technique allows the doctor to see the breast in much greater detail. The biggest advantage of 3D technology over 2D is that it can detect smaller cancers, which translates into earlier detection.

“Think of the breast as an apple,” explained Christopher Formen, MD, an NKCH radiologist. “2D mammography gives you a way to look at the apple, but you’re looking at the entire apple. Within that apple, you have to find the bad seed.”

“3D mammography allows us to slice the apple into thin, minute sequences and sections,”Dr. Formen said. “We can look for that seed slice by slice. This is a better way to detect those early, obscure cancers that we can’t see when we’re trying to find the tiny seed in the whole apple.”

Dr. Formen shares additional advice in this two-minute video clip.

Everyday Breast Health

There are a few others things you can do that may help to prevent breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight is perhaps the biggest. “Breast cancer has an association with hormone levels,” Dr. Formen said. “As we age, estrogen goes up. In some cases, estrogen is bad for breast cancer. Controlling your weight can help control hormone levels and diminish your chances of getting breast cancer.”

Other lifestyle changes that may reduce your risk for breast cancer include:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Limiting your alcohol intake to 5 oz. per day (if you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start!)
  • Quitting smoking

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