A new study came out on Monday regarding additional breast screening for women with dense breasts. The problem is that mammograms are not very good at detecting cancer's in dense tissue. But just adding an ultrasound is not the answer.
""What's not clear is what a woman who's told her breasts are dense
should do next, if anything. Some of the laws suggest extra screening
may be in order.
Not so fast, a team of scientists reported
Monday. They modeled what would happen if women with dense breasts
routinely received an ultrasound exam after every mammogram, and
calculated such a policy would cost a lot, in extra tests and false
alarms, for a small benefit.
For every 10,000 women who got
supplemental screening between the ages of 50 and 74, three to four
breast cancer deaths would be prevented - but 3,500 cancer-free women
would undergo needless biopsies, the study concluded."
Obviously just because you may have dense breasts, you could be at higher risk for breast cancer but it doesn't mean you will get breast cancer. Your real risk of getting breast cancer depends on several other issues including family members' medical history, etc.
"Monday's study "reaffirms that we don't know exactly what the right
thing to do is when a woman has dense breasts," said Dr. Otis Brawley,
chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.
finding more tumors won't necessarily save lives, cautioned Brawley, who
worries that "we're legislating something that we don't totally
The American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists doesn't recommend routine additional testing in women who
have no symptoms or other risk factors.
UCSF's Kerlikowske said
the real issue in deciding whether any woman needs extra screening -
from an ultrasound to a more expensive MRI - is her overall risk of
The things that are clear to me are that first of all more research is clearly needed AND an additional screening of some sort is needed. We aren't there yet. This study was progress but it gave us a non-answer.