Washington, DC (WUSA) -- Mammography is a mainstay in detecting breast cancer. But one group of women can't always rely on this x-ray to find their cancers.
"I came for my appointment I had my routine mammogram it was negative nothing was wrong," Hallie Hahn a breast cancer survivor tells 9NEWS NOW.
Hallie is 50-years-old and that's how it's always been since she started getting routine mammograms10 years ago.
But before she left the doctors office she was asked to participate in a study using a new machine to screen women with dense breast tissue. That's when things changed for Hallie.
A Somo Insight 3D automated ultrasound machine found Hallie's 3-year-old breast cancer which a mammogram hadn't detected.
Dr. Rachel Brem with George Washington Medical Faculty Associates is helping conduct this clinical trial using the new machine to see if the combination of ultra sound and mammography will help find more hidden cancers.
"The reason 3D automated whole breast ultra sound is so exciting is because for some women mammography is sufficient. But women who have dense breast its been an area a quandary that's because breast density is a strong independent risk factor for developing breast cancer and we know that mammography is not as effective in women with dense breast," Dr. Brem says.
The ultra sound machine scans a women's breast and sends pictures to a computer which reconstructs them into 3-D so doctors can see through the entire breast.
"It is like theater in the round you can see things from all sides and that's why it was caught," Hallie says.
After surgery, chemo and radiation Hallie's cancer is gone and she feels lucky she participated in the study.
"Every year I was responsible and you think the mammogram is going to do its job. But there are cases that it doesn't. That is why this machine is so incredible important," she tells us.
The 3D ultrasound is already used as an extra diagnostic tool when a mammogram shows something suspicious. But the goal of this study is to prove whether it should be a first-line screening tool in combination when breast density is an issue.