New technologies altering care standards for breast imagers

In an interview in this issue of FierceMedicalImaging, radiologist Rachel Brem talks about the promise of automated breast ultrasound and its ability--when used in conjunction with mammography--to significantly increase breast cancer detection rates while improving radiologist workflow.

Automated breast ultrasound is an innovative new technology that goes far in demonstrating that women's imaging has moved into a new phase--one in which individualized and tailored screening is becoming the norm for women for who mammography, despite it's position as the gold standard for breast cancer screening, is not enough by itself.

In the April 4 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, Jennifer S. Drukteinis, M.D., and colleagues from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., address this topic in their review article, "Beyond Mammography: New Frontiers in Breast Cancer Screening."

Mammography alone, they say, may suffice for women with non-dense breast tissue, but its effectiveness in women with dense breast tissue is problematic--studies have shown that mammograms can miss a large percentage of cancers in such women. This new phase in breast cancer screening means that radiologists will be developing patient-specific strategies designed to reflect a patient's cancer risk based on factors such as family history, age, genetic profiles and breast density.

With this in mind, breast imagers are incorporating new technologies into their practices, such as automated breast ultrasound, which gives women with dense breast tissue a new, potentially life-saving cancer screening option. Other technologies are becoming more prevalent as well, such as low-dose mammography, MRI, molecular breast imaging and tomosynthesis. Adoption, however, particularly for ABUS, remains slow, according to Jon Brubaker, a senior analyst with MD Buyline, which gives hospitals and healthcare systems advice on medical technology investments.

As radiologists focus more on breast density, and women better understand how it can increase their risk of breast cancer, providing the latter with those imaging options that can create earlier cancer detection promises to help reduce mortality and become the standard of care in breast imaging practices. - Mike  @FierceHealthIT

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