New 3-D screening offered in OC could aid breast health

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An Orange County breast care center is the first in California to offer a new variety of mammogram. It'll help uncover cancers that other screening techniques can miss.

In recent decades, mammograms have helped to make a big dent in breast cancer mortality. But for many women with dense breast tissue, a common occurrence if they're younger than 50, traditional mammograms miss up to 20 percent of cancers. That's because the dense breast tissue can hide abnormalities.

Dr. Gary Levine directs the Hoag Breast Care Center in Newport Beach. "What mammographically dense breasts are, are breasts made up of tissue in which the X-ray has difficulty penetrating through the breast tissue," Levine said, "so it appears white on the mammogram. Unfortunately cancer also appears white on the mammograms and so the breast tissue can obscure the cancer."

It's the first in California to offer 3-D mammography screenings. He says the new technology will allow doctors to discover more early-stage breast cancers. So far, only 10 other centers in the country offer this mammogram technology.