Albany Medical Center introduces new breast cancer screening device

October 11, 2017 06:29 PM

ALBANY -- Albany Medical Center has a new tool to help doctors detect breast cancer.

The automated whole breast ultrasound, or (ABUS), is an advanced breast cancer screening option for women with dense breast tissue who may need more than a mammogram.

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Doctors said the ultrasound is making a huge impact in diagnosing breast cancer in women. 

“We are likely to pick up an extra four or five breast cancers per thousand patients so that's about equivalent to the amount that we're finding mammographically,” said Dr. Beth Whiteside, Albany Medical Center’s Breast Center Medical Director. 

Whiteside said the ultrasound is often used in women with dense breast tissue because mammograms sometimes fail to spot cancer in these patients.

“This will be an additional test that people can have as an option if they are told that they have dense breasts as an extra way to screen for breast cancer,” Whiteside said. 

“Dense breast tissue…40% of women in America have that,” said John Scieszka, GE Healthcare Product Sales Specialist. “The reason that so important and it's important for women to understand if they have dense breast tissue is that it is the number one indicator in developing breast cancer.”

Cancer and breast tissue show up white on mammogram images and blend in with each other, making it difficult to detect breast cancer in some mammogram tests.

“Doctors said one benefit of the ultrasound device is that cancer shows up as dark areas in the images, making it easier to detect. 

Dr. Whiteside demonstrated the difference using images of the same breast with cancer. 

“There's a breast cancer in this breast but you can't see it on the mammogram,” Whiteside said pointing to a mammogram image. 

The ultrasound image had different results. 

“As you start to scroll through you start to see this black area developing here that is actually the breast cancer,” Whiteside said. 

Experts said the ultrasound increases detection of breast cancer by more than 35 percent and uses sound waves instead of radiation.

However, doctors stress the ultrasound is not a replacement for mammograms

“We still recommend annual mammography beginning at the age of 40,” Whiteside said. 

Dr. Whiteside said the ultrasound can also detect smaller cancers sooner before the cancer has advanced to a more severe stage.

In 2012, New York State passed a mandatory breast density notification law requiring that women with dense breasts be notified after a mammogram that they have dense breast tissue and that mammography alone may not be sufficient. 


Nia Hamm

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