Jean Weigert, MD,the head of breast imaging for the Hospital of Central Connecticut, discusses the importance of increased breast cancer screening for women with high breast tissue density. After Connecticut became the first state to mandate that patients be informed of their breast tissue density and recommended the appropriate supplemental imaging, Weigert gathered four years of data to determine the impact of this additional imaging.
She found that for women with breast tissue density higher than 50%, regular ultrasounds resulted in nearly twice as many identified breast cancers, compared to mammography alone. Many of these cancers were small or node-negative, and may not have been identified until they progressed further if not for the supplemental imaging.
This data changes the paradigm of how women should be screened for breast cancer, says Weigert. Patients should be broken down into risk groups, and given recommendations on screening based on those groups. Low-risk women should have a mammogram every year, high-risk women with strong family history should have a mammogram plus an MRI, and women with no significant family history but with high breast tissue density should have an ultrasound as part of their routine screening every year.
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