Screening Breast Ultrasound at Bellevue Medical Imaging
Posted on: 01/30/2012
Everyone following the media is aware of the controversy surrounding mammography: Is it effective? Does it save lives? How often should it be done?
When thought about logically, this controversy rests on the simple fact that mammography alone only finds 60% of breast cancers, simply because the density of normal breast tissue hides breast cancers. In addition, the denser the breast tissue, defined as the predominance of glandular tissue after fat, the more difficult cancers are detected.
Despite this, most breast screening centers provide only mammographic screening and offer a 60% success rate to their patients, which would be a D- average in school. So of course, the effectiveness of a breast cancer screening program with a D- average will continuously be questioned.
In contrast to mammography, breast ultrasound is most successful in finding cancers in women with dense breasts. The addition of whole-breast screening ultrasound to mammography screening adds an addition 30-33% yield in detecting breast cancers. Most importantly, these are the same cancers that hide with mammography in dense breast tissue, these cancers are already invading surrounding tissues, and are more likely to be lethal than some of the cancers found with mammography alone. With the addition of whole-breast screening ultrasound, a breast cancer screening program will find 93+% of cancers, an A average in school. This data is from a retrospective study of our performance at BMI, on the basis of other academic studies, and these studies are available to the public for review.
If screening ultrasound was routinely provided to women with dense breast tissue across the nation, there would be no doubt as to the effectiveness of breast cancer screening.
Bellevue Medical Imaging is one of the only breast screening centers in the country that provides whole-breast screening to women with dense breasts. We are probably the only center in the entire nation that double-screens a patient's breasts, that is the breasts are examined by two technologists, independently. This yields even greater accuracy.
So why isn't whole-breast ultrasound screening more widespread? Whole breast ultrasound screening is difficult to learn, there are few places that teach it, it is demanding work and reimburses poorly. Whole-breast ultrasound adds one half-hour to your examination, a $100 cost to your exam, with most insurance paying for the study. For patients who cannot afford the full price, we discount as needed.
BMI is often criticized for the added cost of our whole-breast ultrasounds. But our critics forget that one late-stage breast cancer causes undue suffering and hundreds of thousands of dollars of cost to the health care system. They forget the betrayal a patient feels when she finds her own breast cancer a week after her yearly mammogram screening missed it. This does not happen at Bellevue Medical Imaging.
At Bellevue Medical Imaging, we perform the mammogram, whole-body breast screening ultrasound and any needed biopsies or surgical referrals in one visit. Of course your referring physician is consulted while you are here if there is need for biopsy. Our patients are informed of their result prior to leaving the clinic. Other centers recall 10-15% of patients for follow-up visits, with the workup often taking months, and leading to additional cost in lost job time and significantly increased patient stress.
At Bellevue Medical Imaging we provide an A effort, we find cancers that are not found in other centers, and we do this with the least possible inconvenience to you, our patient.