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The use of ultrasound in breast cancer screening of asymptomatic women with dense breast tissue: A narrative review

journal contribution
posted on 2018-11-27, 00:00 authored by D Bowles, Ann QuintonAnn Quinton
Introduction Mammography is the standard screening modality for breast cancer; however, sensitivity reduces with increasing breast density, resulting in the potential for masking of cancer. Ultrasound is a potential supplemental screening tool, but its routine use is controversial. Methods A database search was performed with keywords “ultrasound” and “breast density and screening”, including variations. Articles were included if they assessed the use of hand-held ultrasound as a supplemental screening modality in women with dense breasts. Discussion Twelve articles were identified. No high-level evidence articles were identified. Cancer detection rates increased with the addition of ultrasound-to-mammography screening protocols. However, this was associated with increased costs per cancer detected, an increased biopsy rate, and a low positive predictive value. The survival benefit, cost versus benefit, and psychological impact of the addition of ultrasound is unknown. Conclusions The addition of ultrasound to a screening program in an asymptomatic population of women with dense breast tissue detects additional cancers compared with mammography alone. Knowledge regarding a survival or cost benefit associated with increased cancer detection, and the psychological impact of the addition of ultrasound is unknown. Further research is needed to assess whether the addition of ultrasound is cost-effective with respect to clinical outcome and survival






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Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

Era Eligible

  • Yes


Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences