MIAMI (CBS4) — More than 200,000 women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer. The earlier a woman is diagnosed with the disease the better her chances of surviving it. For that reason, scientists have been working to improve technology in order to diagnose the disease in its earliest stages. But some conditions, such as dense breast tissue, make that difficult.

One advancement in diagnosing the disease is new technology called digital tomosynthesis, which doctors believe will be a better way to perform a mammogram on dense breasts.

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Dr. Kathy Schilling, Medical Director of the Center for Breast Care at Boca Raton Community Hospital, is conducting a clinical research study on a new technology called digital tomosynthesis. Boca Community is one of only 15 hospitals nationwide offering this new type of 3 dimensional mammography.

“We know that we are missing actually up to 50-percent of cancers in patients who have dense breasts so through this there has been an evolution of technology,” said Dr. Schilling.

The problem with dense breasts is that in mammograms dense tissue shows up as white and cancers are also white, so they can be obscured.

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Another problem is that breasts are 3 dimensional organs, and yet in mammograms doctors are looking at them in a 2 dimensional picture, which may hide cancer behind overlapping tissue.

“What tomosynthesis is, is a 3D image of the breast,” said Dr. Schilling, “and what we do is actually ‘slice’ through the breast at 1 millimeter intervals so you don’t have the problem of overlap of tissues.”

Boca Community Hospital is offering the study to any patient who is having a biopsy there. Patients don’t have to pay additional money for the study and the breast center is going to offer it to patients who come in for additional exams at no extra cost.

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