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BWFH provides new option for breast cancer screening

screening breast ultrasound

The Sagoff Breast Imaging and Diagnostic Center at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, a leading center for breast health care in New England and in the country, provides a patient-centered approach to breast cancer detection. Now, in addition to state-of-the-art digital 3D mammography, patients have another option for breast cancer screening—screening breast ultrasound.

Screening breast ultrasound does not replace an annual mammogram, but it can be used as a supplemental screening tool. “We can use screening breast ultrasound in our patients with dense breasts to detect additional small breast cancers not seen on mammography,” says Division Chief of Breast Imaging Catherine S. Giess, MD. “It’s an optional and supplemental test that can give us more information about what’s happening within the breast.”

Radiology Program Manager for Breast Imaging and Support Services Douglas Maybury, RT(R), CNMT, says it’s another option that rounds out Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s complete suite of breast cancer detection testing options. “Mammography is still the gold standard, but for women with dense breasts, which is about 50 percent of the patients we see, it can be a good additional screening option for breast cancer,” he says.

The department has long offered ultrasound testing for patients who are called back after a mammogram for additional imaging. In the past, a radiologist has performed this targeted imaging. Now, sonographers are available in the Sagoff Breast Imaging and Diagnostic Center to perform this testing and also offer screening breast ultrasound for those patients who elect it. “Now that the sonographers are here on site, we are able to make better use of our radiologists’ time,” says Maybury. “It improves the workflow and allows us to offer this supplemental testing.”

Both Dr. Giess and Maybury stress that screening breast ultrasound is not a necessity. However, women with dense breast tissue, for whom mammography is less sensitive in the detection of breast cancer, may elect to supplement screening mammography with screening breast ultrasound.

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