Health reports from NBC4's Dr. Bruce Hensel

Woman Credits 3-D Mammogram With Saving Her Life

By Dr. Bruce Hensel and Crystal Muguerza
|  Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014  |  Updated 11:46 PM PDT
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Using 3-D mammogram test versus 2-D mammogram test is proving to increase accuracy in detecting invasive cancers that could potentially kill people. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for NBC4 News at 6 on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Dr. Bruce Hensel

Using 3-D mammogram test versus 2-D mammogram test is proving to increase accuracy in detecting invasive cancers that could potentially kill people. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for NBC4 News at 6 on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

A new method of testing may have saved a woman's life from cancer.

Jennifer Hoeft was diagnosed with breast cancer last March. The 3-D mammography found an 8 millimeter tumor in her breast.

"I truly, truly believe that the 3-D mammogram is what caught my cancer early," Hoeft said.

The Journal of the American Medical Association released a study confirming that adding 3-D technology to the standard digital mammogram increases cancer detection and decreases recall rates.

Dr. Sarah Friedewald worked on the study along with other co-authors. They examined both 2-D and 3-D mammograms from more than 450,000 patients across the country.

"We found invasive cancers, the ones that potentially kill people, more frequently in women who had the 3-D mammogram versus the women who just had the 2-D mammogram," Friedewald said.

Mammograms with 2-D technology have been criticized for being inaccurate, having sometimes produced false positives that suggest a woman has cancer when she actually does not. That can lead to unnecessary biopsies and over-diagnosis of cancer.

For Hoeft, she believes 3-D technology saved her life.

"Life is short," she said. "My life’s going to be long and full."

Dr. Bruce's advice: Further studies are needed to determine who can benefit the most from the 3-D technology. However, if you undergo a 2-D mammogram that looks suspicious or just isn’t clear, ask your doctor to add 3-D tests. Finding out if you have breast cancer early on could potentially save your life.

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