Women With Dense Breasts Will Have To Look Beyond Ultrasound For Useful Supplemental Breast Cancer Screening

Supplemental ultrasound screening for all U.S. women with dense breasts would substantially increase healthcare costs with little improvement in overall health, according to senior author Anna Tosteson, ScD, at Dartmouth Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

In a study recently released in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Tosteson and colleagues, including lead author Brian Sprague, MD, provide evidence on the benefits and harms of adding ultrasound to breast cancer screening.

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Radiologists’ Visual Search Patterns Affected By Breast Density

A new study suggests that radiologists are more attentive during interpretation with the presence of dense breast tissue regions. “If we wish to optimize viewing algorithms or design appropriate training strategies, the impact of breast density on radiologists’ behaviors needs to be better understood,” wrote Al Mousa and the research team.

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Regular Mammograms Starting At Age 40 Reduce Breast Cancer Deaths

Thirty percent of nearly 40,000 women who will die from breast cancer in the next year could have been helped if they had received regular mammograms starting at age 40. A public service campaign called Mammography Saves Lives is encouraging women to find an accredited mammography center near them for regular screenings. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 300,000 new cases of breast cancer will are diagnosed each year.

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Mammography Reduces Late Stage Breast Cancer

A study published in Cancer found that the number of people diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer has decreased by 37 percent since health care providers begain using mammography. Researchers from the University of Michigan produced the report. The study also found that the number of early-stage diagnoses increased 48 percent.

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Women May Avoid Mammography Screening Due To Fear Of Radiation Exposure

Findings from a new study by the research team at UCLA indicates a need to educate patients on the amount of radiation they are exposed to during a single screening mammogram. Misinformation and misunderstanding about the risks associated with ionizing radiation creates a heightened concern and fear among patients, and may result in avoidance of screening that can detect early cancers.

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Mammography in Breast Cancer

A woman’s chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in her life is approximately 1 in 8 (12%). It is one of the leading causes of cancer mortality among women in the United States.

Because of early detection, intervention, and postoperative treatment, breast cancer mortality has been decreasing. The use of mammography for screening has largely contributed to early detection.


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A Joint Statement from the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging states that, “It is well known that mammography has reduced the breast cancer death rate in the United States by 30 percent since 1990 ─ hardly a small benefit.”

Mammography is the preferred examination for breast cancer, especially in women older than 40 years, the age group with the highest incidence. Some studies have shown that mammography may be particularly beneficial for women who are 80 years of age and older.

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Brest Density Laws

States are passing laws requiring mammography centers to tell women about their breast density so they can consider more imaging tests, such as ultrasound and MRI.

Dense breast tissue makes finding cancer on a mammogram more difficult. It may also increase the chance of developing breast cancer.

Bills are pending in 19 states, and a federal law has been introduced.

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Mammograms Still Number One In Breast Cancer Detection

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and annual mammogram screening is still the best, early detection method for women in their 40s and beyond says Dr. Michael Hallenbeck , radiologist at SNMH Diagnostic Imaging Center.

X-rays usually have no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for a mammogram exam, and the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs this risk, says Hallenbeck.

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Report: Earlier Mammography Screening is Better in Younger Women

A study of 7,300 breast cancer patients showed that more than two-thirds of breast cancer deaths occurred in younger women with no history of mammography or with intervals of two years or more in between mammograms. Unscreened women accounted for 71% of breast cancer deaths, and the median age at diagnosis was 49, compared with 72 for women who died of other causes. According to Blake Cady, MD of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the findings support mammogram screening before age 50.

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MRIs May Increase Mastectomy in Older Breast Cancer Patients

Older breast cancer patients had significantly higher chances of mastectomy if their evaluation included a MRI, according to a study by Cary P. Gross, MD, of Yale University and colleagues.

Breast MRI was associated with an increase of more than 20% likelihood of mastectomy verses breast-conserving surgery in women 65 and older. An MRI also was associated with tripled odds of bilateral cancer diagnosis and bilateral mastectomy, as compared with age-matched patients who did not have breast MRI.

The study confirms that breast MRI detects more breast cancer lesions and better defines the extent of cancer, said Hiroyuki Abe, MD, of the University of Chicago. Consequently, a larger incision or mastectomy might follow more often.

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