If you’re a woman with an increased risk for breast cancer, you may want to consider more than a mammogram. A new study finds getting an ultrasound screening or an MRI, along with a mammogram, may detect additional cancers.
“Mammograms seem to have a problem with detecting tumors in women who have dense breast tissue because it’s basing its findings on density,” says Katherine Lee, MD, who did not take part in the study but treats breast cancer patients at Cleveland Clinic. “The other tests actually are not based on density, so they actually do a little bit better with detecting breast cancers in women who have this problem.”
Researchers at the American College of Radiology Imaging Network in Philadelphia screened more than 2,500 women using mammography, ultrasound, and MRI. Results show that of the 111 women who had breast cancer events, 33 percent were detected by mammography only, 29 percent by ultrasound only, and 8 percent by MRI only — after both mammography and ultrasound screens failed to detect cancer.
Researchers say annual ultrasound screening may detect some breast cancers that are not seen on mammography, and MRI may reveal additional breast cancers missed by both mammography and ultrasound screening. Dr. Lee recommends talking to your doctor if you think you might need additional screenings, but all women should at least be getting their regularly scheduled mammograms.
“Screening mammography is still the most important detection tool for breast cancer. So, it is recommended once a year, starting at the age of 40 and also getting a baseline some time after the age of 35.”
Complete findings for this study are in the Journal of the American Medical Association.