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Studies Show New 3D Digital Mammogram Can Detect Cancer Earlier

RANDALLSTOWN, Md. (WJZ) -- A groundbreaking move in breast cancer detection. That's how doctors are describing a new 3D digital mammogram test.

Monique Griego was at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown. It's one of the first facilities in the nation to get one.

While the technology is still fairly new, so far, studies show it can detect cancer earlier and is more precise.

Jessica Ward is not only a nurse at the Breast Care Center at Northwest Hospital, she was recently one of its first patients to undergo a new 3D mammogram test, called tomosynthesis.

"It went smoothly just like a normal mammogram would," Ward said.

The procedure is nearly identical to the routine mammogram except for a 3D screening. The machine moves around the breasts.

"This is a big leap forward in how a mammogram is done and what we can find with it," said Dr. Preeti Gupta, Northwest Hospital. "I am able to see things so much better, it is incredible."

She showed WJZ how the 3D images allow her to look at different layers inside a breast. A bright spot is an abnormal area. Now doctors can focus in and see it much more clearly, making detection much more precise.

"Because I can see inside the breast better, there's a better chance I will see the abnormal tissue better or I will see it much earlier than I was able to," said Gupta.

While long term data is not available, doctors say early results show 3D scans are particularly good at detecting the most invasive types of cancer. And Gupta says they lead to less false alarms, where women receive suspicious results that later turn out to be normal.

"We all want to have that peace of mind. We all want to know that we've done what we needed to do in terms of being proactive for our health care," Ward said.

Right now in the U.S., only about ten percent of facilities offering mammograms have this new 3D test.

As of now, Northwest Hospital is offering 3D screenings at no additional charge like the regular mammogram.

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