DENVER -- Mammograms are the gold standard in tracking breast cancer and continue to be the most effective screening tool for most women, but doctors say for women with very dense breasts, the best back-up test is an ultrasound.
Here’s why: Dense breast tissue shows up on a screening as a white mass, but so do cancer cells. It's easy to get them confused if you can't see the difference.
Dr. Lora Barke of Invision Sally Jobe explains, “When patients have dense breasts they are limited, the accuracy of mammography is not quite as good as if you had completely fatty breasts.”
A mammogram revealed that Brenda Dickey had dense breasts, but at first she passed on having an ultrasound.
Within minutes, Brenda changed her mind on a whim. It was a decision that saved her life. The ultrasound found that she had breast cancer and because of the diagnosis Brenda was able to take the necessary steps to rid herself of the disease.
She says, “I'm sure there are many women out there in the same boat that don't know that they could get something else besides a mammogram and if you have dense breasts you need to get the ultrasound.”
But how do we know if we have dense breasts? Doctors say the first step is always a mammogram.
Your physician will let you know after your screening is complete, if you don’t receive any information make sure to ask. Since women with dense breasts are six times more likely to develop cancer, opting for the additional testing is well worth it.