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Ultrasound Plus Mammogram Helps Detect Breast Cancer

December 7, 2009
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Combining ultrasound with annual mammograms greatly boosts the chances of finding breast cancer in women who are at high risk, according to a study presented December 1 at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting. Known as the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) 6666 trial, the study tracked more than 2,800 women known to be at high risk for breast cancer for three years. Researchers found that annual screening with mammograms and physician-performed ultrasound detected 29 percent more cancers and 34 percent more invasive cancers than mammograms alone.

In the third year of the study, 612 women were screened with MRI. Results showed MRI was even more sensitive than the combination of mammography and ultrasound—cancer detection rate rose 56 percent, while the detection of invasive cancers increased 67 percent.

While the news sounds promising, the study revealed one drawback: Adding either ultrasound or MRI to mammogram screening tends to increase the risk of false positives. But what’s important to women is being sure there’s no cancer, said study author Wendie A. Berg, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, in a press conference.

Related CME info: Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Symposium


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