By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Doctors are calling it a significant breakthrough in the battle against breast cancer. A new and better way to find early stage tumors. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on the results of new research.

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3D digital mammography finds significantly more invasive breast cancers and reduces the number of false alarms, according to the largest study of its kind, with part of the research being done here in Philadelphia.

Fifty-four-year-old Lori Safer is raising two teenagers in south Jersey, where for years she was worried about a series of inconclusive breast screenings. Then, Lori turned to Penn Medicine, where 3D mammography, known as tomosynthesis, found what she had been fearing.

“Even though it was diagnosed as cancer, it was stage 1.  And they got it in time.  I just feel very happy to know that I had it and it’s cured,” said Lori.

“When you look at tomosynthesis this area clearly stands out,” said Dr. Mitchel Schnall, the Chair of Radiology at Penn Medicine.  He says tomosynthesis provides 3 dimensional images.  He can hone in on a certain area.

“You get a clearer look at the breast tissue by being able to look at individual slices as opposed to the entire breast as a single projection,” said Dr. Schnall.

Penn was part of a sweeping new study that included over half a million women.

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With 3D digital mammography there was a 41 percent increase in the detection of invasive cancer, compared to traditional  mammography alone.  There was also a 15 percent decrease in unnecessary follow up tests because of false alarms.

“It really helped on both ends of the screening process,” said Dr. Schnall.

Lori says the uncertainty of not knowing was worse than the diagnosis that finally came with the 3D technology.

“I believe it saved my life,” said Lori.

3D mammography works and feels the same way as a traditional mammogram.

Many doctors feel that 3D mammograms should be used more routinely, but they’re not currently covered by most insurance plans.

For more information on 3D Mammography, visit-

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Stephanie Stahl