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Pittsburgh One Of Eight Sites Testing New Technology To Detect Breast Cancer

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Researchers are testing technology that could better detect breast cancer for many women when used in addition to a mammogram.

When it comes to the annual mammogram, Judy Kumpfmiller, of Oakdale, admits it's memorable.

"Few seconds of pain ... you get them smashed," she said. "It doesn't take too long, but still, it's uncomfortable."

Luckily, no cancer has been detected on her 3-D mammograms, but she does have another finding -- dense breasts.

Milk glands and ducts and supportive tissue can make the appearance dense, something seen in 40 percent of women nationwide. It can potentially make tumors harder to see.

Because of her dense breasts, Kumpfmiller qualified for a study sponsored by the device company -- a new type of ultrasound called the Soft Vue.

soft vue machine
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Pittsburgh is one of eight research sites comparing Soft Vue to 3-D mammograms.

"This technology encourages you to really look for abnormalities that look like malignancy, not benign lesions," Dr. Marcela Bohm-Velez, a Weinstein Imaging radiologist, said. "We're hoping that this new technology will revolutionize the way we manage these women with dense breasts."

The patient lies face down on a table. The breast is placed in position through and below the table.

"It's not compressing it or anything. There's just a slight suction that keeps it in place, but you don't really feel that too much," Kumpfmiller said. "My only concern was the water. It was warm water, so I was very happy about that."

soft vue patient
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The test takes 2 to 4 minutes per breast. The images look different from cone-shaped mammograms, where tissue and disease can both look white.

With the Soft Vue 3-D ultrasound, the radiologist sees slices of circular tissue, from the nipple to the chest wall, and the images come in color.

"Stiffer masses tend to be red and those are usually cancers, whereas benign masses are typically blue to green and are not as stiff as cancers would be in a woman with tissue that's dense," Dr. Danielle Sharek, a Weinstein Imaging radiologist, said.

The Soft Vue won't replace mammograms, but if the research is successful, it could add to the ways cancer can be detected.

Kumpfmiller is glad to take part and hopes more women will volunteer. The study is the only way to get this test right now.

For more information on the study and how to participate, visit

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