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Coupled With Mammography, Ultrasound Finds More Breast Cancers
Date:5/13/2008

But, false-positive rate may be too high for some women, study suggests ,,,,

TUESDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- While undoubtedly lifesaving for many women, mammography is far from perfect. But, undergoing breast ultrasound in addition to standard mammography can find more cancers in high-risk women, particularly those with dense breast tissue, a new study found.

But, the study authors noted, ultrasound also significantly increases the rate of false-positive readings.

"In our study participants, half of the breast cancers were found using mammography alone. By adding ultrasound, we found 78 percent of the cancers," said the study's lead author, Dr. Wendie Berg, a radiologist at an outpatient center in Lutherville, Md., affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

However, identifying those extra cancers came with a cost of significantly more false-positive readings.

"With mammography, a woman has about a one in 40 chance that a biopsy will turn out not to be cancer. With the addition of ultrasound, it's one in 10," Berg said.

Results of the study, which was funded by the Avon Foundation and the U.S. National Cancer Institute, were published in the May 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Each year, more than 180,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and almost 41,000 will lose their lives to the disease. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining, possible due to earlier detection and diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society.

The new study included almost 3,000 women recruited from 21 centers. The average age was 55 years old, and all of the women had a higher-than-normal risk of breast cancer.

The women were randomly assigned to receive either mammography alone or mammography plus ultrasound performed by a physician.

Forty women were diagnosed with breast cancer within a year of th
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