NEW ORLEANS — Thousands of women have a chance to be part of a ground-breaking breast cancer prevention study happening around the country, including in New Orleans.

It's been six years since Faye Thomas-Bertrand lost her best friend to breast cancer. In her honor, she got a pink ribbon tattoo with her friend's initials and dates. She still wears her hair short in solidarity.  

"She had shoulder length, very thick hair. When she started losing her hair, I cut my hair," Thomas-Bertrand said.

Faye signed up for a first-of-its-kind mammogram study being done by LSU Health at University Medical Center. After her screening in the study, she needed a biopsy.

"I was terrified," she said.

But Faye got good news. She did not have cancer. 

Instead, she'll now be part of the new national study for the next eight years. The new study compares 2-D and 3-D mammograms to find the differences in different patients.

"This is the first study that's going to compare them and see if it would be better to have a more tailored mammogram for each individual patient," explained Dr. Mignonne Morrell, a breast radiologist at LSUHSC. 

On a 2-D mammogram, dense tissue may be blocking something of concern behind it, but on 3-D mammogram, breast radiologists can scroll, or digitally "slice," section by section to reveal all the tissue.

"Dense breast tissue is one of the things that limits the sensitivity of mammography," explained Health Breast Radiologist Dr. Brooke Morrell about a 2-D mammogram.

But 3-D comes with more low dose radiation, so this study aims to show who may benefit from them.

"It may be able to help somebody figure out what's going on," Thomas-Bertrand said when asked why she joined the study.

And the free study will help Faye make sure she gets her regular mammogram.

The T-MIST study is for women 45-to-74 years old who have not had breast cancer.

It is free if you do not have insurance. 

If you do have insurance, costs will go through your normal policy plan.

You can not qualify for the study if you have breast implants.

Call 504-210-3320 or E-mail: tmath6@lsuhsc.edu for more information.