Ultrasounds and MRIs Detect More Breast Cancer with Annual Mammograms

New research confirms the effectiveness of medical imaging for breast cancer, when combined with annual screening mammograms for women at elevated- risk for the disease. This study finds that when ultrasound and breast MRI are paired with annual mammograms, breast cancer detection among “intermediate- risk” women is significantly increased.

The study analyzed 2,809 women with an elevated risk for breast cancer—women with dense breast tissue and one other risk factor, such as family or personal history of breast cancer. After three years of annual screening mammograms, 53 percent of cancers were detected through this imaging modality including 30 percent that were detected by mammography only. In addition, 29 percent of cancers were seen only at ultrasound and with the addition of MRI in the final year, an additional 9 cancers (8 percent)  were found that were not yet detected by either of the first two imaging exams.

The trial's principal investigator Dr. Wendie Berg explains that, “For women with dense breasts who are at higher risk, cancers tend to be more advanced. The combination of ultrasound and mammography is quite effective in finding the cancers.”  However, adding MRI found even more cancers than mammography and ultrasound in these higher risk women. Supplemental cancer yield of ultrasound in this study was 3.7 cancers per 1000 screens while supplemental yield of MRI was 14.7 cancers per 1000 screens.

This research is yet another study supporting the benefits of screening for breast cancer.   UCSF Radiology and Biomedical Imaging recommends annual screening mammograms for average risk women beginning at age 40.

Breast cancer screening is a beneficial and effective life saver.

To read more about this study, please see here.

For additional blogs on breast cancer screening, please see here.