From top to bottom and side to side, mammograms are thorough screenings designed to detect any changes to the breast tissue. “If people are diligent about coming every year, it does give them an advantage because what we’re looking for are subtle changes in their breast tissue year to year,” explained Dr. Gail Santucci, a diagnostic radiologist with Lee Health.
Catching those changes early can save lives. “If women begin screening at age 40 and get screened every year, that’s what helps save the most lives,” said Dr. Santucci.
If women have a family history of breast cancer, doctors may recommend getting screened earlier. “Breast cancer is so common that it affects a lot of people. 75 percent of women who are diagnosed don’t have any family history of breast cancer,” she said.
Which is why annual screenings are so important. Typically, masses can only be felt when they grow larger than 2 centimeters. Masses that are smaller than that are only going to be detected through imaging.
“A 2D mammogram is an x-ray that looks at the breast in a couple of different plains: one from the top and one from the side. Those views were chosen to try to cover as much of the breast tissue as much as possible. In a 3D mammogram, you’re using the same positioned views but you’re taking very thin slices through the breast tissue instead of just one x-ray,” said Dr. Santucci.
Lee Health offers both types of screenings, but 3D mammograms can show clearer results. “They have better sensitivity and specificity in studies, just meaning that they are better at detecting cancers,” she said.
Studies show women have a one in eight chance of getting breast cancer. But through regular screenings it can be found early, giving patients a fighting chance.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.