ABUS For Dense Breasts
North Kansas City Hospital has a new breast cancer screening tool for women with dense breast tissue – Automated Breast Ultrasound. The risk of breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue is 4 to 6 times higher than in women who do not have dense tissue. Early treatable breast cancers are also more difficult to identify through mammography in those patients. Director of Women’s Imaging at NKCH, Julia Neperud, MD says, “We are pleased to offer a safe and effective new screening tool for patients with dense breasts. When combined with screening mammography, ABUS has been shown to increase the cancer detection rate in women with dense breasts by about 30% without additional ionizing radiation.”
Classifications and Results
NKCH mammography reports to physicians have always included an assessment of breast density using the American College of Radiology BI-RADS classification system below:
1. Almost entirely fat
2. Scattered fibroglandular densities
3. Heterogeneously dense
4. Extremely dense
BI-RADS density class 3 and 4 are considered to be dense breasts. NKCH mammogram result letters sent to patients now include an assessment of breast density. Due to recent passage of the Breast Density Law by the Missouri legislature (effective January 1, 2015), the letters also recommend that patients discuss supplemental screening with their physicians.
How It Works
The equipment allows the technologist to obtain consistent, uniform, high-quality ultrasound images of the entire breast. Once in place, the system travels over the breast, creating 3-D ultrasound images. Radiation is unnecessary, so the test is safe.
The test is FDA approved as a supplement to mammography for asymptomatic women with dense breast tissue. ABUS is not meant to replace mammography, and it should be performed annually within 30 days of the screening mammogram. A physician’s order is required, and the indication should state “dense breasts.” Women with breast symptoms, a lump or recent breast procedure should be evaluated with traditional radiologist-directed diagnostic mammography and hand-held ultrasound instead.
ABUS exams can be scheduled at the NKCH Women’s Imaging Center in the hospital’s Pavilion building, or at the Medical Imaging outpatient facility located next to the Meritas Health Gashland Clinic. The NKCH Scheduling Office number is 816.691.5267.
To learn more, call 816.691.5201.