By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Scientists have come up with a new way to find hidden breast cancer that can be especially dangerous for younger women.

Stacey Herkert has a family history of breast cancer, which is why she makes sure to get a mammogram every year.

“When my mom was diagnosed…she made us promise to go annually for checkups and we do,” Herkert said.

Like many women, the 54-year-old has dense breast tissue, which can make screening for breast cancer challenging.

“Women with dense breast tissue have more white glandular tissue on the mammogram, so the background appears white,” Mary Yamashita, professor of radiology at USC, explained. “The problem is breast cancer also appears white.”

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Herkert is taking part in a study testing a new three-dimensional ultrasound called SoftVue to try to help doctors more accurately identify cancer tissue.

The patient lies on their stomach and the breast is placed into a warm-water bath. In two to four minutes, the machine scans the entire breast using sound waves.

“There’s no radiation exposure, there’s no compression of the breast,” Yamashita said.

Researchers are comparing patients’ mammmography results to the SoftVue scans to determine the machine’s effectiveness.

“No exam is 100 percent but we want to be as close to 100 percent as possible,” Yamashita said.

Results of the study will be submitted to the FDA for approval.

Doctors say if the technology is proven to be effective and gets the go ahead, it could eventually be used in addition to annual mammograms.

Mammograms are still considered the gold standard.

Stephanie Stahl