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CarolinaEast Medical Center offers new early cancer detection method

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A local hospital is offering a new method for early detection of breast cancer.

CarolinaEast Medical Center is one of the first hospitals in the region to offer 3D mammography.

The X-ray technology takes dozens of images of the breast from different angles to help doctors more easily identify tumors in patients.

The half million dollar machine arrived at the diagnostic center in New Bern earlier this month.

The older, 2D technology doesn't provide a digital reconstruction of the breast like 3D technology, meaning it can be easier for doctors to miss signs of cancer in women with dense breast tissue with 2D technology.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among women.

"I'm very excited to have this technology for us and our patients. I think we're going to see some earlier diagnoses and find some things we wouldn't otherwise have found," said Sandra Nichols, a registered mammography technologist at the CarolinaEast diagnostic center.

Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, Lenoir Memorial Hospital in Kinston, and Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City say they do not have 3D mammography.

A mammogram costs about $350, while a diagnostic mammogram costs about $375, said Nichols. There is no additional cost for a 3D mammogram, she said.

3D mammography works best for women with dense breast tissue, said Nichols. A patient must receive a referral from a doctor to undergo the 3D mammography, said CarolinaEast Medical Center public information officer Megan McGarvey.

The American Cancer Society recommends all women over the age of 40 receive a breast cancer screening once a year.

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