(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One of the biggest mammography centers in North Texas is now using a new form of breast examination that could eventually make the traditional mammography obsolete.

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Karin Rush had her first mammogram at the age of 30 and this week she was among the first in North Texas to receive a three-dimensional mammogram, since the FDA approved the technology for patients.

“I want to be around to see my kids get married, to see all the milestones,” said Rush, who is considered at risk for getting breast cancer.

Rush’s father died of breast cancer, which spread to his bones, at the age of 56. Her grandfather died of liver cancer when he was just 59.

Doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas participated in more than two years of clinical trials and radiologist Douglas Baker says they can now screen for cancer tumors that are smaller and do it when women are younger, so treatment can begin sooner.

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Dr. Baker says some tumors can be obscured by dense tissue, which is common in younger women. “We have the greatest success of finding things when they’re just a few millimeters in size rather than have to wait until they’re larger,” he said.

The new machines take both 2D and 3D images of the breast, which doubles the amount of radiation the patient is exposed to. But Dr. Baker says the considerably low amount of radiation is safe for patients.

A tomogram, or 3D mammogram, takes less than a minute and is typically more comfortable for patients since the breast does not have to be pressed between imaging plates.

Officials with the FDA agree that the test benefits outweigh the radiation risks, but they are monitoring patients.

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Right now, the target population for 3D mammography is those people who have a history of breast cancer in their family, those with dense fibrocystic breasts, women on hormone replacement therapy and those who have had a previous high-risk biopsy.