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Ultrasound-Mammogram Combination Improves Breast Cancer Detection

Among women with dense breast tissue, breast cancer detection is 70 percent more effective than traditional mammograms when a combination of ultrasound and mammography is used, according to a recent study.

The study, announced at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting Monday, was conducted over a three year period and studied 18,005 women of all ages.

Women’s breast tissue often becomes less fatty and more dense prior to menopause. Researchers found that, while mammography was highly effective in detecting breast cancer in women with fattier breast tissue (98%), it was only moderately effective (56%) in detecting cancer in denser breast tissue. “As density increases, the sensitivity of mammography decreases,” stated researchers.

“I think that every woman who has a dense breast and a normal mammogram can benefit by having a breast ultrasound as well,” said radiologist and lead study author Dr. Thomas Kolb.

Kolb also noted the extensive improvements made in ultrasound technology within the last few years, resulting in the false-positive rate dropping to the same amount as mammography, 5 percent.

Sources:

AP - December 1, 1998