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In the heart of Central Minnesota, Astera Health is dedicated to empowering our community with the knowledge and tools to lead healthier lives. Considering that around 1 in 8 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime, understanding and using early detection methods is crucial. For women 40 or older, we emphasize the importance of annual screening mammograms.

At Astera, we’re equipped with the latest advancement in mammography—digital breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography. This leading-edge technology offers the most detailed images for early tumor detection, providing top-tier care near you. 

What is mammography?

A mammogram is a special type of X-ray picture of your breast tissue. These images can be examined by an experienced radiologist to detect tumors and other concerning changes in your breast years before you might be able to feel them yourself. While mammograms use a low dose of radiation, the benefits of detecting breast cancer early far outweigh any potential risks. Its important for women to start having regular mammograms to maintain good health and provide peace of mind.   

Types of mammograms

There are two types of mammograms: 

  • Screening mammograms. These mammograms are usually performed every year or every other year on women who have no signs of breast cancer. Screening mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. Astera recommends that women start screening mammograms at age 40 and continue annually until age 55. Some women may choose to switch to every other year after that, but all women should continue mammograms until at least age 74 or as long as they are in good health. Women at high risk of developing breast cancer may need to start screening mammograms before age 40. Your Astera women’s health provider can help you decide when to start screenings. 
  • Diagnostic mammograms. This type of breast imaging is done for women who have possible signs of breast cancer, such as a lump or nipple discharge. If you have a screening mammogram and it shows an abnormal finding, you may also need additional diagnostic mammograms. 

Mammography is also used during minimally invasive stereotactic breast biopsy. This procedure uses breast imaging to guide your provider to the concerning area in your breast so they can sample it to detect whether it is cancerous or benign. 

The 3D mammography difference

Not every mammography facility has digital breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography, and Astera offers this advanced technology. 3D mammography is a newer digital breast imaging method that uses an arm to sweep over the breast, taking multiple images in seconds. This allows for a series of thin “slices” of your breast, which our radiologists can view as individual images or in dynamic interactive animation. 

Traditional 2D mammography is still an effective tool for detecting breast abnormalities and is often used in combination with 3D digital mammography. However, a 3D mammogram may improve the early detection of breast cancer in some women. It also provides increased accuracy, which can reduce your chance of a false positive and additional mammograms and testing. 

Additionally, if you have dense breasts, 3D mammography is somewhat more likely to detect tiny masses that 2D mammograms could miss. 

Insurance covers mammography

The Affordable Care Act ensures annual 2D screening mammograms are available at no cost through insurance. Minnesota state law enhances this by mandating no-cost coverage for 3D mammograms for women at high risk for breast cancer and those with higher-than-normal breast density, offering them advanced screening options. For women opting for a 3D mammogram outside these categories, some additional costs may apply, but this innovative technology could be invaluable for peace of mind and health. 

Diagnostic mammograms, while covered by insurance, are applied to your copay, deductible, and any out-of-pocket insurance costs, ensuring that more detailed screenings are accessible when needed. To help you navigate the complexities of insurance coverage and estimated cost before your imaging, Astera is here to guide you, making the process as smooth and understandable as possible. 

Time for your annual mammogram? Schedule an appointment for a mammogram by calling 218-631-3510 or find a radiologist at Astera Health. 


Do you have an order for diagnostic imaging? Call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment. 

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

We also offer on-call coverage for emergencies during off hours.

Why choose Astera Health?

When you need medical care, you want to ensure you’re getting the best care possible. Astera strives to ensure that all patients always receive a high level of service. Patients love our clinics for all of the following reasons: 

Care for all ages 

We provide comprehensive services for all ages, from young children to older adults. 

Personalized treatment 

We develop customized treatment plans to meet the unique needs of every patient, ensuring they receive the best care. 

Compassionate care 

Our medical staff takes a personal interest in all our patients, providing compassionate care in your time of need. 

Tuesday, March 26

All clinics, rehab, and ReadyCare will open at 10 am