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October 20, 2023

Breast Cancer Awareness Month – What to Know About 3D Mammograms

ThedaCare Mammography Technologist Helps Women Prepare for Screenings

While 2D (two-dimensional) mammograms were the standard breast cancer exam for years, 3D (three-dimensional) mammograms now provide a more effective screening for most patients.

“3D mammography is the better screening choice for all women,” said Miranda Parson, a mammography technologist at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. “It can offer an increased cancer detection rate. In particular, women with dense breast tissue will likely benefit from 3D exams because tumors are more difficult to detect in dense tissue. A 3D mammogram combines multiple x-rays of the breast to create the 3D image, providing a clearer image of the breast tissue.”

In March 2023, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule change requires health care facilities to notify patients if they have dense breast tissue, which slightly increases a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. It’s estimated half of all women have dense breast tissue.

In Wisconsin, a bill currently moving through the State Senate (Senate Bill 121) would require insurance companies to cover enhanced testing, such as 3D mammograms, for those with dense breasts.

Most insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover 3D mammogram for the initial exam. If you are unsure whether your insurance provider does, contact them before your appointment to confirm your coverage. Most Mammography Centers, including all ThedaCare locations, are now using 3D Mammography.

Parson advised that before a mammogram, patients should provide a full medical breast history prior to the screening.

“Any procedures or previous health concerns that are breast related are important for us to know,” she said. “For example, if you’ve had surgery in that area or have breast implants, that will adjust how we will do the imaging.”

She noted that many patients fear the mammogram may be painful.

“I tell my patients that it may be uncomfortable, but it should never be unbearable,” she said. “If the compression becomes too much, tell your technologist and he or she can adjust it. In the end, the imaging only lasts about seven seconds, so it’s over quickly.”

She offered this advice for anyone coming in for a mammogram:

  • Don’t use deodorant on the day of your screening.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit. You will only need to remove clothing above your waist for the exam.
  • Tell your technologist if you are nervous. They will work with you to make the procedure more pleasant.

Parson stressed the importance of regular mammograms for women over age 40.

“The American Cancer Society reports that one in eight women will develop breast cancer over their lifetime,” she said. “That makes regular screening very important. We suggest women highlight an annual occasion to remind them to schedule their exam. We tend to get very busy in October and November after Breast Cancer Awareness month, so we encourage women to schedule their screenings throughout the year.”

She recommended women could schedule a mammogram around their birthday, the birth of their first child or a regular anniversary that will trigger a reminder that it’s time for a screening.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 650,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 providers and team members. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.