Types of Cancer

3-D Digital Breast Tomosynthesis Mammography

Breast Tomosynthesis
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tomosynthesis (TOMO)?

Tomosynthesis is a revolutionary 3-D breast cancer detection technology system which looks similar to a standard mammography machine and uses X-ray like the standard 2-D digital mammography. However, the tomosynthesis mammography camera moves in an arc over the breast taking 15 mini-pictures within 4 seconds. These multiple pictures create a layer-by-layer look of the breast tissue — 1mm at a time — removing tissue overlap that may hide cancers or mistake dense breast tissue as tumors.

Why is TOMO a better test for me?

The result is less need for recalls, fewer false-positives, fewer invasive testing procedures, and potentially earlier detection and treatment for breast cancer. Now the radiologist can see breast tissue detail in a way that was never before possible, in sharper, dime-thin images from numerous angles.

Breast tomosynthesis may be used in conjunction with traditional digital mammography as part of your annual screening mammogram to capture more breast images. Very low X-ray energy is used during the screening examination so your radiation exposure is safely below the American College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines.

Where can I get a TOMO screening?

Memorial Regional Hospital’s Women’s Imaging Center was the first facility in the state offer breast tomosynthesis. Memorial Regional Hospital’s Women’s Imaging Center was the first facility in the state offer breast tomosynthesis. Approved by the FDA in 2011, the screening is now available at Memorial Regional Hospital, Memorial Regional Hospital South, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Miramar.

Who can have TOMO?

Almost all patients who need a screening or diagnostic mammogram can have 3-D tomosynthesis mammography. For women with dense breast tissue, women who have breast implants or who had prior biopsy or surgery, 3-D mammography can help with the examination of the breast. Exceptions may include women who are very large-breasted or pregnant.

What do I need to do to schedule a TOMO?

  • Obtain a mammogram prescription from your healthcare provider. As with any mammogram exam, it is important to have a breast physical exam and to discuss any new breast findings or problems with your healthcare provider. Also, it is important to inform the physician of your own breast history, including previous biopsies, surgeries and/or hormone use, as well as any family or personal history of breast or ovarian cancer.
  • To schedule an appointment at Memorial, call 954-265-TOMO (8666).
    • You may want to have your tomosynthesis done when your breasts are less tender, usually one week following your period.
    • Please notify our scheduling department and technologists if you might be pregnant or if you have breast implants.
  • On the day of your mammogram, the preparation is the same for 2-D or 3-D tomosynthesis:
    • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These substances may interfere with the mammogram.
    • Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.
    • Remove any jewelry that might interfere with the X-ray picture.
    • You will need to remove your clothes above the waist, and you will be given a dressing gown.
    • The tomosynthesis mammogram is usually performed in a standing position, although some patients may sit or lie down, depending upon the area of concern in the breast.

What does the TOMO equipment look like?

The equipment appears identical to a standard digital mammogram except that the tube head arcs over the breast during a 4-second exposure. The breast is compressed similar to or with slightly less pressure than a standard 2-D mammogram. Our certified technologists have special training with this new equipment and strive to help make the exam as comfortable as possible. During the exam, the patients are instructed to hold their breath for just a few seconds.

Who reads my TOMO?

After your 3-D tomosynthesis mammogram is obtained, a specially trained breast imaging radiologist physician interprets your images. You will normally receive your results within a few days, or if you prefer, you may request to be scheduled so you can receive your results at the time of your exam, or be called with results within a few hours. The report is sent to your healthcare provider as well.

Does TOMO have more radiation?

Let’s put the risk in everyday terms

Standard mammogram =
Flying 1,000 miles
driving 300 miles
biking 10 miles
breathing in Boston or New York City air for two days

Please call Memorial Cancer Institute to schedule an appointment: 954-265-4325, or email us.