Study: Some women need ultrasounds for detection

Filed under Research Innovations



A multi-year study led by a Magee-Womens Hospital doctor found that women with dense breast tissue or elevated risk of breast cancer benefit strongly from annual ultrasounds or MRIs to increase chances of accurate detection.

"We have known this for a long time, that mammograms are not perfect. We know there are cancers that we will not see," said the study's principal investigator, Wendie Berg, professor of radiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Magee.

Mammography fails to detect about half of cancers present in dense breast tissue, and these women tend to be diagnosed with more advanced cancers that doctors often find between annual mammograms, Berg said.

Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging increased breast cancer diagnoses to 12.3 women per 1,000 per year, from 7.9 women per 1,000 based on mammograms alone.

"That's a substantial increase of about 29 percent. It's very important," Berg said.

A single MRI screening revealed cancers not seen by mammography or ultrasound at a rate of 14.7 per 1,000 screens, according to the study.

The study results indicate that about 30 percent of women should undergo supplemental mammograms or MRIs, the researchers concluded. They said ultrasounds and MRIs should not replace mammograms.

The study of 2,809 women took place at 19 U.S. locations and one site each in Toronto and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The median age of participants was 55.

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