New Technology Helps Detect Breast Cancer Early

AMES, Iowa –New technology at a central Iowa clinic may help detect breast cancer earlier for some women.

The McFarland Clinic in Ames started offering the SonoCine Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound in June. It’s for women with very dense breast tissue and is used in addition to a yearly mammogram starting at age 40.

McFarland Clinic Radiologist Grant Goldsberry says, “It does not replace mammography, so women with dense breast tissue should still have mammography, but this would be an additional screening on top of that, and it would be an annual study starting at age 40.”

The technology scans the entire breast area and produces a movie clip for the radiologist to read. Doctors say this could help catch cancer earlier in women with dense breast tissue, which is about 40 percent of the screening population. Goldsberry says, “Cancers on ultrasound show up black on a grey background, so it allows the radiologist to detect cancers on ultrasound that may not be seen on mammography.”

A traditional targeted ultrasound has been an option for women, but Goldsberry says the automated technology offers better detection. “The targeted is just a limited area, and the ability of having a technologist scan by hand the entire breast is not the same as having this automated system, which it verifies full coverage of the breast,” he said.

Lynn Lanning, Director of Oncology Services at McFarland Clinic, recently had the screening. She says it was quick and painless and is happy with her results. “It was just another reassurance there was not a breast cancer there because we know the earlier breast cancer is detected, the more curable it is,” Lanning said.

Doctors at McFarland Clinic say they’ve used the technology on more than 100 women so far. It has not caught any cancer yet, but Goldsberry says he’s confident it will. “One of the places we visited has done about 600 studies, and they’ve had a detection rate of almost one in 100 cases seen on ultrasound that was not identifiable on mammography.”

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