While doctors use several methods to detect breast cancer, not all diagnostic radiology scans are the same. According to several recent studies, ultrasounds provide more accurate data for physicians to analyze. Medical imaging can influence the way doctors target the disease, so precision is important.
Ultrasounds trump other imaging tests
Researchers from the Hospital of Central Connecticut presented a study at the 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium explaining that ultrasounds more accurately diagnose patients than mammograms and MRIs, explained General Surgery News. The Connecticut Experiment found an additional 4.2 cases of cancer per 1,000 women by combining an ultrasound with a mammogram, as opposed to only utilizing mammography.
Ultrasounds also provide more reliable images of tumors, AuntMinnie.com explained. During a study by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, this type of diagnostic imaging outdid both mammograms and MRIs, although the latter proved less factual overall. It is important for screening to be as accurate as possible so oncologists can determine the stage of cancer and assign appropriate treatment. However, MRIs displayed tumor sizes for ductal cancers notably larger and those for lobular cancers significantly smaller than ultrasounds and mammograms did.
Breast density blocks detection
Although researchers at MUSC found that breast density did not play a large role in detecting tumor sizes, it contributed to hiding cancerous cells. The additional 4.2 cancers were discovered in women with higher breast density, as well as in those who have a family history of cancer, explained General Surgery News. Even if women received negative results from mammograms, they are advised to get an ultrasound as well if they have higher breast density.
Connecticut and 18 other states currently have laws in place that require doctors to inform women of higher breast densities and educate them about further screening, the source explained. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of the female population have dense breasts, and physicians in those 19 states must notify patients that such density can hide anomalies from mammograms.
For health care providers to correctly diagnose and implement the best treatment plans for their patients, they need to know that their equipment is producing correct information. When it comes to detecting breast cancer, ultrasounds provide more accuracy for women with high breast density and a family history of the disease.
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