Ultrasound Reduces Biopsies for Women
Reported December 03, 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Targeted breast ultrasound of suspicious areas
of the breast, including lumps, is a safe, reliable and cost-effective
alternative to invasive biopsies for women under age 40, according to
"By performing high-quality breast ultrasound, we can reduce the number of
expensive and avoidable invasive diagnostic procedures in young women,"
senior author Constance D. Lehman, M.D., Ph.D., professor and vice chair of
radiology at the University of Washington and director of imaging at the
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, was quoted as saying. "We don't want to be
overly aggressive with this population."
The researchers conducted two studies in which targeted ultrasound was used
to distinguish between potentially cancerous masses and benign findings in
young women who had detected breast lumps or other specific areas of concern
in their breasts. The first study included 1,123 ultrasound examinations of
women under age 30; the second included 1,577 ultrasound examinations of
women ages 30 to 39.
Across both studies, all instances of cancer at the site of the clinical
concern were positively identified through targeted ultrasound. In addition,
all negative ultrasound findings correctly identified benign changes in the
breast. The only malignant mass not identified by ultrasound was an
unsuspected lesion outside of the targeted examination area. That cancer was
identified by a full breast mammogram.
"Surgical excision or needle biopsy of tissue can be painful, expensive and
frequently unnecessary in these age groups, which have very low rates of
malignancies," said Dr. Lehman. "In most cases, monitoring with targeted
ultrasound is a very safe alternative."
She added that ultrasound should be the diagnostic tool of choice for young
women seeking care for breast lumps and other suspicious signs and symptoms.
"It is time we used ultrasound to reduce unnecessary morbidity and costs
associated with more aggressive invasive approaches."
SOURCE: Presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North
America (RSNA), Chicago, December 2, 2009