Health Watch - Breast Cancer: Ultrasound

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about breast cancer, in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The key to surviving breast cancer is early detection. Regular mammograms are the primary way of detecting breast cancer, but some women may need additional screening.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women at very high risk for breast cancer have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to a mammogram, but not all women can have an MRI. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that ultrasound combined with mammography is more effective in detecting breast cancer than mammography alone. Ultrasound uses sound waves to provide an image of the breast.

Dr. Phil Evans, executive vice president of imaging services at UT Southwestern, says ultrasound is readily available, well-tolerated by patients, involves no radiation and is less expensive than MRI. There is a higher incidence of false positives with this method, and doctors are studying whether this decreases with more screenings. 

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October 2010


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