A study involving more than 70,000 women in Japan has shown that combining ultrasound with standard mammographic procedures could improve breast cancer detection rates for women. The study is published online in The Lancet.
The study results show that the combination of both medical imaging procedures resulted in correct identification of cancers in more than nine out of 10 cases (91% sensitivity). However, for women who underwent mammographic procedures alone, just over three quarters of tests correctly identified breast cancer (77% sensitivity).
The study looked at asymptomatic women between 40 and 49 years old at average risk rather than those at moderate or high risk. Half were offered the usual mammography screening and half were offered ultrasound testing in addition to mammography, with two screening sessions taking place over two years.
In Asia, breast cancer tends to present at an earlier age than in Europe or the United States, and Asian women have denser breast tissue. Both of these factors are known to reduce the accuracy of mammography.
Lead researcher Noriaki Ohuchi said in a press release, “Our results suggest that adding ultrasound to mammography results in more accurate screening results for women in Japan, which could ultimately lead to improved treatment and reduced deaths from the disease. Further work will now be needed to see if these results can be extended to other countries.”