Ultrasound with Mammography

Topic: How an Ultrasound with Mammography May Increase Cancer Detection Rate

Research has shown that the pairing of an ultrasound screening with mammography may increase the detection rate of cancer. Furthermore, the pairing has shown to potentially be successful across all breast types. This promising research and development may mean that more breast cancer diagnoses are made early and that preventative and proactive measures may be taken.

A Study on Ultrasound and Mammography

New research has surfaced and been published in JAMA Network Open, highly suggesting that pairing an ultrasound screening with mammography assists in the detection of breast cancer despite breast type. This exciting research may mean more early detection of breast cancer, and therefore a reduction in deaths.

While mammography has been a great tool, health experts admit that its sensitivity is not always up to par for individuals with dense breast tissue. Therefore, the combination of a supplemental ultrasound screening with mammography was performed, and an increase in detection rates was reported by researchers. More specifically, on August 18th, Japanese researchers noted these findings, which were made from a secondary analysis of a randomized control trial that had over 19,000 women in participation.

Despite breast tissue density, the study showed promising results in the detection of breast cancer, possibly closing a loophole for individuals with dense breast tissue. For example, 9,705 women were selected to receive an ultrasound with mammography, and 9,508 women were selected to receive mammography alone. Known as the Japan Strategic Anti-Cancer Randomized Trial, the study took place between 2007-2020 and incorporated women in their 40’s who were asymptomatic. It was noted that around 11,400 of the women (approximately 59%) had heterogeneously or extremely dense breasts. In total, around 130 cancers were detected.

The results of the study were astounding, with the sensitivity in the group that received an ultrasound with mammography around 93%, as opposed to the 67% reported in those who received mammography alone. In addition, these percentages were similar for those with dense breasts (93% vs. 71%), as well as non-dense tissue (93% vs. 61%).

However, researchers did note that the sensitivity of ultrasonography or mammography by itself did not exceed 80% across all breast densities in both groups. In addition, specificity was lower and biopsy and recall rates were higher in the group who received an ultrasound and mammography. Therefore, the conclusion of the study showed a promising impact when pairing ultrasound and mammography, but researchers said that breast density alone should not be the determining factor.  

Key Takeaway

While mammography has mostly been a reliable tool for the detection of breast cancer, it sometimes has difficulty detecting cancer in individuals with dense breast tissue. A study performed by Japanese researchers has suggested that pairing an ultrasound screening with mammography is one way to avoid this issue since it showed an increase in the detection rate of cancer despite the breast type of the individual.

Topic Discussed: How an Ultrasound with Mammography May Increase Cancer Detection Rate