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A free 3D mammogram may find hidden cancers

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Finding a place to get a 3D mammogram in Pennsylvania has become more convenient for thousands of women across the state.

The high tech 3D test can often spot cancers hidden in a typical 2D exam.

In 2015, Pennsylvania became the first state to cover high-tech 3D mammograms for free.

Previously, most insurance plans would only pay for the 2D exam.

Monday, the PA Breast Cancer Coalition announced the results of a statewide survey to find out what facilities offer the test.

Hundreds of survivors, health care professionals, and advocates come together at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition to continue the fight against breast cancer.

PA Breast Cancer Coalition President & Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy said "I'm a survivor myself, and I know how hopeful it makes me to see other women who are similarly situated, and that's really how this conference got started."

Nikki Hockley found a lump on her own that a standard two-dimensional mammogram had missed.

"They did an MRI, and from that point, I went from having one lump and a lumpectomy, to having four, and having a mastectomy," Hockley said.

A three-dimensional exam may present a better picture of a woman's health.

Adagio Health and HealthyWoman regional program manager Bonnie DeLozlier said "this is important, particularly for women who have dense breast tissue. When you have dense breast tissue, you're looking at a 2D view, there could be a lump behind tissue that cant be seen. With a 3D mammogram, that lump might be found."

It's why the PA Breast Cancer Coalition is helping women across the state find access to centers offering the 3D test.

"Of the over 350 sites that we surveyed, 90 percent of them responded. Of those that responded about 43 percent, have at least one 3D machine," Halpin-Murphy said.

Governor Tom Wolf made Pennsylvania the first state to require insurance cover the 3D exam. Now, getting the high -tech mammogram may not only save women money, it might also save a life.

"Early detection for me was key, and that is why I am still here. So, if you have a chance, the insurance covers it, go for the 3D mammogram to ensure that you don't have a lump hidden somewhere," Hockley said.

"The goal of that is to target women who are completely uninsured or use insurance that carries a deductible, and those women are eligible for the free breast exam, the pap test, the pelvic exam," DeLozlier said.

"Our goal, is to find a cure for breast cancer now so that our daughters don't have to," Halpin-Murphy said.

Advocates in the fight against breast cancer can't stress enough the importance of early detection.

Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lancaster, and York counties all have facilities that offer the exam.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition has a complete list of centers offering 3D mammograms.