NILES — Women in Southwest Michigan now have increased access to 3D mammography technology – also known as digital breast tomosynthesis – at Lakeland Hospital, Niles, according to a Spectrum Health Lakeland news release.

The technology also is available at the Center for Outpatient Services in St. Joseph.

In comparison to conventional mammogram images, 3D mammography allows radiologists the ability to examine breast tissue one thin layer at a time, making fine details more visible and less likely to be hidden by overlapping tissue – especially for women with dense breast tissue.

Used in combination with a 2D, or conventional, mammogram, 3D mammography requires no additional breast compression. The generated 2D images and 3D slices are reviewed together to make a clinical decision or diagnosis, according to the release.

“Clinical studies have concluded that 3D mammography is able to detect 41 percent more invasive cancers at an early stage when compared to conventional 2D mammography,” Dr. Mark Ottmar, breast imaging section chief, said in the release. “It also reduces the need for additional follow-up mammograms by 40 percent, reducing patient callbacks.”

It is recommended that patients have annual mammograms between the ages of 40 and 80. After age 80, the need for, and frequency of, a mammogram should be a decision made between the patient and their physician.

Patients 40 and older don’t need a written referral from their health care provider for a routine annual mammogram.

To schedule an appointment in Niles or St. Joseph, call 800-791-2810.