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WVU Health Report: 3D Automated Breast Ultrasound

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A new tool is increasing the detection of breast cancer at an earlier stage. 3D Automated Breast Ultrasound is helping to find more "hidden" breast cancers.

A Mammogram is a good tool for detecting breast cancer according to medical experts. But for women with dense breasts, there may be hidden cancers that are harder to find. That's where a 3D Automated Breast Ultrasound can make a big difference. "The automated breast ultrasound gives us a better chance of finding the smaller cancers at an earlier stage in these patients with dense breasts. And it's been found to increase the number of cancers detected by 30 percent compared to mammography alone in this population of the patients with dense breasts," said Dr. Ginger Layne, a WVU radiologist.

Women with dense breasts have more fibroglandular tissue, making the cancers harder to see. "The automated breast ultrasound is completely optional for patients. We inform them of their breast density when they have a mammogram, and if they have dense breasts, they have the option of also getting the automated breast ultrasound," said Dr. Layne.

The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes, with the ultrasound device making three sweeps of each breast. "3D Breast ultrasound does not replace a mammography, it enhances it," according to Dr. Rolly Sullivan with WVU's School of Medicine. Since this is a brand new technology, not all insurance companies may be covering it yet.

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