A new study on the detection of breast cancer, in women in both developing and developed countries, has shown that ultrasound tests can be an effective supplement to normal mammography tests. This seems to be especially true in the case of women with dense breasts.
111 breast cancers were found during the study, from screenings using both mammography and ultrasonography.
To perform the study, the researchers collected and scrutinized data from 2,809 women around the world, specifically in Canada, Argentina, and the United States. All of these women, it should be noted, had dense breasts, but no factors putting them at risk for breast cancer, according to Fox News.
There are two kinds of breast cancers — those with calcifications, and invasive cancers.
With 111 cancers detected, rates of success were similar between the two tests. However, false positive results were more common among the ultrasonography tests (though they are not unheard of in mammographies, too).
There are two kinds of breast cancers — those with calcifications, and invasive cancers. Calcifications are a non-fatal, non-invasive type of common breast cancer, and are characteristic of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common non-invasive form of breast cancer. There is some debate as to whether or not they should be referred to as “cancer” at all. Invasive cancers, however, are the life-threatening kind.
For finding the calcifications, the mammography was the superior test. Ultrasound was better at detecting invasive cancers, however, according to Health.
“It looks like ultrasound does better than mammography for node-negative invasive cancer,” stated Dr. Wendie Berg, the study’s leader and a professor of radiology at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh. Node-negative refers to an invasive cancer that hasn’t invaded the lymph nodes, but has grown past the initial tumor. “The downside [to ultrasound] is, there were more false positives,” Berg said.
Further testing is needed. And while this is occurring, Berg says that those with dense breasts should consider supplemental screening with the ultrasound, but that those who receive a supplemental MRI will not need it.