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Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEWORLEANS- New technology at local hospitals is helping doctors spot breast cancer more easily and faster.

A local patient saysher cancer was found early because she listened to her doctor's orders.

Shawn Hotard vividly remembers the day the shocking phone call came.

'How amI going to tell my husband, my mom, my kids, like what amI going to say?' saidShawn Hotard, remembering the day her doctor called with the difficult diagnosis. That day was also her birthday.

Only in her mid 40s, she had breast cancer that spread to a lymph node.

'Icouldn't do it face-to-face, soI texted my husband and said, 'They said it's cancer.' He said, 'We'll get through this and we'll fight it or whatever and do what we have to do,'' Hotard said crying as she recalled her conversation with her husband.

Shawn is fortunate that her doctors ordered regular mammograms and ultrasounds because she has fibrocystic or dense breast tissue and her radiologist at East Jefferson General Hospital could see the change on the mammogram thenext year. But when the East JeffersonBreast Care Center got the 3D mammogram machine after her diagnosis, her cancer was much more obvious.

'The advantage of 3D is looking at the breast layer by layer or slice by slice to decrease that, all that overlapping breast tissue, that is so hard to see through to identify abnormalities,' explainedDr. Mary Beth Lobrano, an East Jefferson General HospitalRadiologist.

Not only did studies find a 40 percent increased detection of invasive breast cancer, but false positives went down 17 percentwith the clearer 3Dpicture.

Here's thedifference. On Shawn's2D mammogram, you couldn't see the smooth border as clearly showing anormal breast cyst. But on3D mammogram, the smooth border was very clear.

And you could see clearly on the 3D mammogram that the cancer is not smooth. It was more star like and irregular.

'Perhaps ifI had gotten that before, it might have been caught even earlier,' said Hotard of the 3D technology.

Shawn is still working as an X-ray technician while going through chemotherapy. She has a lumpectomy and next year will be ready for radiation. Her daughters have gotten used to their mom without her hair.

Doctors think next year insurance companies will start paying for the 3D mammograms. But in the meantime, your regular insurance coverage for a 2D mammogram will be accepted with a $50 co-pay for the 3D scan.

Ochsner and Tulane also have the 3D mammogram technology.

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