BUDDY CHECK 7: The benefits of 3D mammography

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Doctors at Marshfield Clinic say the addition of 3D mammography in their screening process can pick up an additional 40% more cancers, they simply wouldn't have been able to see with a standard 2D image.

The technology was approved by the FDA in 2011, and Marshfield Clinic has been utilizing it ever since.

For Tina Esker, her gut instinct was to pay for the 3D mammogram out of pocket, even before insurance was willing to cover it.

She believes the 3D image was key to finding her breast cancer early.

"I have no family history. It was not palpable. I had just had a breast exam by both my nurse practitioner and the oncologist, and the size that they took out was about a golf ball size," Esker said.

According to Dr. Sarah Nielsen with Marshfield Clinic, while 3D mammography presents a more accurate picture for all women, those with dense breast tissue find it particularly beneficial.

"3D mammography or tomosynthesis, is taking multiple pictures or slices through the breast which gives us more information. So, we have more layers and levels through the contour of the breast. And, so that allows us to detect an abnormality within the breast from the surrounding normal tissue more easily versus trying to see through breast tissue in a single view," Dr. Nielson said.

She goes on to say that right now, some insurance companies cover the cost of 3D mammograms while others do not. So, it's important to check with your provider ahead of time to see if there is an out of pocket fee.