By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – More than 40% of women in the United States have dense breasts which can make it hard to find small cancers on a mammogram, but researchers are testing a new technology that could help.

It is a 3-dimensional ultrasound called SoftVue.

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During the exam, the patient lies on her stomach, and her breast is placed into a warm water bath. In two to four minutes, the machine creates a 3D image using sound waves.

SoftVue exam (WBZ-TV)

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There is no radiation and no compression of the breast.

While SoftVue probably would not replace a woman’s annual mammogram, it might be used in conjunction with mammography for women with dense breasts, because by creating 3D images doctors can measure tissue differences which might signal an abnormality.

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Researchers are recruiting 10,000 patients at several sites around the country to take part in the study.

Dr. Mallika Marshall