Friday, January 1, 2016

Ultrasound shown comparable to mammography for breast cancer detection

Portable ultrasound may be comparable
to mammography for detecting breast
CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 31, 2015 – Ultrasound is as sensitive for detecting breast cancer as mammography, and should be considered for testing for the disease according to an international study.

Researchers led by by Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, in the Department of Radiology at Magee-Women’s Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted the study involving 2,809 women from 20 different centers in the United States, Canada and Argentina. Of those 2,662 completed three annual
ultrasound screenings and conventional x-ray mammograms, and then either a biopsy or 12-month follow up exam. The study results appear in the Dec. 28, 2015 JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The results showed that the number of ultrasound scans to detect breast cancer was the same as that of mammography. Ultrasound detected 58 of 111 confirmed cases of breast cancer compared to 59 of 111 detected by mammography. Ultrasound was better at detecting which tumors were invasive, detecting 53 invasive cancers compared to 41 invasive cancer detected by mammography.

Ultrasound also produced more false-positives, meaning identifying cancer when there was none, than mammography. While the false-positive rate was higher for ultrasound, the number of women recalled for extra testing was comparable to mammography.

While this is not the first study to show the usefulness of ultrasound for breast cancer, it is the first to be done in women without symptoms, suggesting that it could be used as a diagnostic tool. 

While additional studies are needed to validate the use of ultrasound for breast cancers, the researchers conclude that ultrasound could be a useful alternative to mammography, particularly in countries lacking organized screening programs, or where low-cost portable ultrasound systems would be a more affordable option. 

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