New technology could be a game changer in breast cancer fight

New technology could be a game changer in breast cancer fight
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Some call a new machine a game changer in the fight against breast cancer. The new technology can provide a more detailed image to detect cancer earlier.

54-year-old Sandy Weeks is a breast cancer survivor, so she never misses a checkup. And she says she relies on a relatively new technology: the 3D mammogram.

"It's your lifeline.  I mean without that detection you could be literally dying," Weeks said.

Radiologist Dr. Sarah Friedewald led a three-year study and found women who got both the 2D and 3D mammogram had more accurate results than patients who got just the traditional screening test.

"3D mammograms pick up smaller cancers invisible on 2D mammograms," Friedewald said. "These are the cancers broken out of milk ducts, potentially concerning and lethal."

With 3D mammography, the technician gets about a dozen additional images from multiple angles at the same time as the standard mammogram. Radiologists get more information that leads to increased accuracy in tests. To Friedewald, this means fewer false positive results.

"We look at breast in one millimeter slice thicknesses. It's kind of like a book. You can page through the bok, and there might be something hiding on a page in the middle of the book," she said.

But for all the increased capabilities the 3D mammogram affords patients, there is a price.  There is more radiation exposure and, says Friedewald, not every insurance company covers it.