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3D Mammograms & More: Q&A with Dr. Rishi Arya

The Wentworth-Douglass Breast Health Center opened in January to offer women on the Seacoast greater access to comprehensive breast care. The center offers advanced tomosynthesis imaging, also known as 3D mammography, so patients can be confident knowing they are getting the most accurate results.

In addition to 3D mammography, the Breast Health Center also offers breast ultrasound, MRI, image-guided needle biopsy, bone density screening, a high-risk clinic, a certified breast health nurse navigator, and more.

Callbacks may happen as breast structures are complex, especially for women with dense breast tissue. Rest assured, if you ever experience a callback yourself, the likelihood that the finding will require a biopsy or be diagnosed as breast cancer is still quite low.

Each woman’s personal risk considers her age, lifestyle, genetics, and other factors. One tool to help you assess your risk is The National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. We strongly encourage all women to discuss their cancer risks with their primary care providers.

Located in Building A, the newest and largest facility at our Portsmouth Outpatient Center, you’ll find our Breast Health Center, home to a women-centered team, passionate about ensuring the health and wellness of women.

Fellowship-trained breast radiologist Dr. Rishi Arya, of Seacoast Radiology, leads the Breast Health Center’s clinical team. Here he answers some questions about mammography, reminding all women that the key to surviving breast cancer is early detection.

Q: How can I determine if I am at high risk for breast cancer?

A: One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and most of these women have no family history of the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Hampshire also has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the United States.

Q: When should women start getting annual screening mammograms?

A: Mammograms are the best way to screen women for breast cancer, and there is no better proven way to detect early breast cancers. When breast cancers are found early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100%.

For that reason, we recommend annual mammograms beginning at age 40. This is also the recommendation of the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging. All women should also be performing monthly breast self-exams at home.

Q: What are the benefits of a 3D mammogram?

A: The Wentworth-Douglass Breast Health Center offers advanced tomosynthesis imaging with Hologic’s Genius™ 3D Mammography™ exam, which is proven to improve early detection of breast cancer and reduce unnecessary callbacks.

From the patient’s perspective, a 3D mammogram is nearly the same as a regular 2D mammogram. Instead of taking one picture at a time, the machine moves through a short arc and takes multiple X-rays of the breast. A computer combines these together as a 3D set of images. In a 2D mammogram, the radiologist looks at the complex architecture of breast tissue in one flat image. 3D mammograms allow doctors to examine images of your breast tissue layer by layer. This way fine details are more visible and less likely to be hidden by the tissue above or below. Research has proven that tomosynthesis has a better cancer detection rate, especially for early cancers.

Another proven benefit of tomosynthesis is it reduces the number of “callbacks,” which happen when a radiologist questions something they see on the images. With the enhanced 3D exam, fewer women need to go through the worry of needing additional imaging.

Learn more about the services we offer at our Breast Health Center

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