To schedule a mammogram and possible ABUS screening, call 847.618.3700. To learn more about breast care at NCH, click here.
Mammography is the gold standard when it comes to breast cancer detection. However, women with dense breasts now have another option when it comes to finding cancers that a mammogram alone might miss.
It's called automated breast ultrasound (ABUS), and Northwest Community Hospital's Breast Center is the first in the Northwest Suburbs to have it.
Here's how ABUS might help you.
Since mammography screening became widespread in 1990, there has been a whopping one-third reduction in breast cancer deaths, according to the American College of Radiology.
"Still, mammography is not an equal test for all patients," says Allan Malmed, MD, vice chief of radiology at NCH and medical director of the Breast Center. In fact, some women face an unfair one-two punch. "If you have dense breasts, you're more likely to develop breast cancer, and it's also harder to find."
While mammography looks for micro-calcifications that can be masked by dense breasts, ABUS produces a 3-D image that can "see through" dense breasts to reveal abnormalities. "The ultrasound will find small, invasive cancers," Dr. Malmed says.
Women with extremely dense breasts are four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer.
Meanwhile, citing a study of 15,000 women with dense or extremely dense breasts, Dr. Malmed says ABUS screening doubled the rate of cancer detection in those patients.
So, how do you know if ABUS is right for you?
Mammography is the place to start. The radiologist who reads your mammogram can determine your breast density based on a four-step scale ranging from fatty to extremely dense.
If you have dense breast tissue, you probably qualify for ABUS, which is a secondary screening that complements mammography. If you have ever had "inconclusive" mammography results, you may have dense breasts and should talk to your doctor to find out more.
The ABUS screening is safe, radiation-free and should come at no or minimal out-of-pocket cost to patients. Dr. Malmed says Illinois is one of several states with legislation requiring insurers to reimburse for the screening.