Mammography FAQ

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Q: What is 3D mammography (tomosynthesis) and why is it better than a standard mammogram?

A: 3D mammography with tomosynthesis is a new type of mammogram that creates images that are more clear and precise than those obtained with standard mammography. 3D breast imaging has helped radiologists find more cancers than with traditional, 2D images alone, according to clinical studies presented to the Food & Drug Administration.


3D mammography creates multiple images of the breast, in layers approximately 1 millimeter thick. Your radiologist examines each of these individually and can also reconstruct the images to create a full, 3 dimensional view of the entire breast.


Traditional mammography creates flat, two-dimensional breast images. This can result in overlapping breast tissue that can either hide a small tumor or make it more difficult to see. The precise images created with 3D mammography can result in the detection of small tumors that standard mammography might miss, especially for women with breast implants or dense breast tissue.


The superior images created with 3D mammography also result in fewer false positives. With 3D mammography, doctors are better able to tell the difference between breast tumors and harmless areas that might have looked like a problem on a standard mammography image. This results in fewer callbacks for additional tests, reducing the anxiety and stress many women feel when there is a question about their breast cancer screening.

Q: Will my health insurance cover this type of mammogram?

A: Yes, most insurance plans cover 3D mammography. If you do not have health insurance, you can get this potentially lifesaving exam for $100, anytime, at PVHMC.

Q: Why should I come to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center for my 3D mammogram?

A: At Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, we have always been at the forefront of breast cancer screening. We perform tens of thousands of screenings and other breast procedures every year.


We now have four 3D mammography units – more than any other hospital in the area. While other hospitals in southern California have 3D breast imaging capabilities, we are the first to offer it as a standard of care to every patient.


When you trust us to perform your breast screening, you’ll be cared for by highly trained and certified healthcare professionals who understand your concerns, including our board-certified radiologists who have many years of experience in breast cancer screening. Our team is here to make your experience with us a positive one while we provide you with the high quality, state-of-the-art healthcare you deserve.

Q: Where do you offer 3D mammography?

A: Currently, we are offering 3D mammograms in Chino Hills and Claremont. We will have 2 units operational in our Pomona location by mid-March.

Q: What can I expect during a 3D mammogram?

A: 3D mammography with tomosynthesis is very similar to traditional mammography. The technologist will position you, compress your breast under a paddle and take images from different angles. During the tomosynthesis portion of the exam, when the 3D images are obtained, the x-ray arm of the mammography machine makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of images at a number of angles.


The entire exam should take about as long as a traditional mammogram. After the exam is complete, the images are sent electronically to your radiologist who studies them and gives you and/or your doctor the results.

Q: What are the radiation risks with 3D mammography?

A: The overall risk is minimal.  The dose is similar to that of traditional 2D mammography and under the FDA regulated limit for standard mammography.

Q: How new is 3D mammography? Is it experimental?

A: The FDA approved 3D mammography with tomosynthesis in February 2011. It is not experimental and is in use in more than 100 hospitals across the United States, with more hospitals adopting the new technology, every day.

Q: How soon do I get my results?

A: Your doctor will receive results within 3 – 5 days if no images from previous mammograms need to be acquired from other facilities. If we need to get those images to compare to the mammogram you just received, it may be another week to ten days before the final results are provided to your doctor. You will receive a letter from PVHMC about your exam within 30 days.

Q: Do I have to have a doctor's referral to get screened?

A: If you are age forty or older, no. You can schedule a mammogram on your own, anytime. If you are age forty or older, no. You can schedule a mammogram on your own, anytime.

Q: I don't have health insurance. How can I get my mammogram?

A: We are committed to making sure every woman gets this lifesaving screening. If you’re uninsured, you can get your 3D mammogram at PVHMC for $100.

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