Wednesday 21 July 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) is on the forefront of breast care with plans to offer breast ultrasound for people with dense breast tissue.
BHB provided the service to its first patients last week. The automated breast ultrasound system (ABUS) is a new piece of equipment that is FDA approved for breast cancer screening as an adjunct to mammography for persons with dense breast tissue.
“We are excited to add the automated breast ultrasound system from GE Healthcare to our comprehensive breast cancer screening programme,” said BHB Chief of Radiology Daniel Stovell. “By offering ABUS in addition to mammography for our patients with dense breast tissue, we anticipate improving detection for small cancers that cannot be seen on a mammogram alone.”
Dense breast tissue has been found to be the most common risk factor for the development of cancer and also makes cancer more difficult to detect using mammography alone, according to multiple large studies. As breast density goes up, the accuracy of mammograms goes down. The difficulty radiologists experience when reading mammograms is that both dense tissue and cancer appear white on a mammogram. With ABUS, suspicious masses appear black against the white of the dense tissue.
“Mammography is the gold standard for the detection of breast cancer. However, it doesn’t work equally well in everyone, particularly those with dense breast tissue,” said Dr Stovell. “Designed and built specifically for screening, research shows that ABUS technology as an adjunct to mammography has the potential to find 35.7 percent additional cancers that would not have been found with mammography alone.”
Dr Stovell recommends women get regular mammograms as suggested by their doctor, and if they have been informed that they have dense breast tissue, that they talk to their doctor or radiologist about specific risks and additional screening tests that might be appropriate.
ABUS scanning is part of the comprehensive service offered in the Mammography Department of BHB’s Imaging Services. Services include:
- annual mammograms (3D)
- stereotactic breast biopsies (3D)
- automated breast ultrasound (ABUS)
- breast MRI
- bone density with body composition
Pictured from left: BHB imaging technologists Terricca Smith, Terri Farnan and Carla Cann complete their training on the new automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) system with a volunteer patient