New Technology – FDA Approved Breast Cancer screening tool
January 13, 2010
Scottsdale – The FDA has approved new technology that now allows radiologists to detect breast cancer sooner and faster. It is called the SonoCiné Automated Whole-breast Ultrasound Method and is only being offered by one facility in Arizona – Arizona Breastnet, in Scottsdale. This unique technology is designed specifically as a breast cancer screening tool to enhance yearly mammography screening. Until now, ultrasound has only been used for diagnostic purposes – not for screening for breast cancer.
A new study, published in European Radiology, found that adding the SonoCiné automated whole-breast ultrasound exam to the annual mammogram doubled the number of cancers found in a group of women who represented approximately 40 percent of all women seeking annual mammograms. This contrasts with previous studies which have examined the use of additional tests only on women with significantly elevated risks of developing breast cancer. Local radiologist, Belinda Barclay-White, MD, is the first physician to offer this technology to women in Arizona and has already experienced its powerful capabilities.
According to Barclay-White, "87 percent of all breast cancers are found in women who have none of the traditional risk factors, such as family history. There have been many studies done on women with the BRAC1 and BRAC2 breast cancer gene and other risk factors, but not much is being done for relatively normal women for whom the mammogram does not always provide a complete picture."
In women with dense breasts, mammograms are more difficult to interpret because it can be difficult to 'see through' the dense tissue, which appears white on the mammogram. Cancerous lumps also appear white, so they become invisible and difficult to differentiate. The SonoCiné Method can detect small cancers because the dense breast tissue appears white on ultrasound and cancerous tissue appears dark. It also takes an ultrasound video of an entire patient's breast exam instead of just single pictures so it can be stopped, it can be magnified and the radiologist can even go back and forth to be sure nothing is missed.
"It is not a replacement for screening mammography, but an additional exam for women with dense breasts and for some women with breast implants," explains Barclay-White. "There are relatively few radiologists trained to offer screening ultrasound as part of the breast screening process, even though the advantages are many. It is less expensive than MRI, there are no contrast injections, no radio nuclide injections, no radiation and no breast compression. In experienced hands, we do not have the high false positive biopsy rates we see with MRI. When cancers are found with ultrasound, they are significantly smaller than when they are eventually visible on mammograms, making treatment outcomes very positive."
Since acquiring SonoCiné, Breastnet has found two breast cancers. One was not visible on the mammogram or on a recent MRI and was not present on ultrasound 15 months prior. "Early detection really does save lives and to find this type of cancer at such a small size is significant when we are talking about patient outcomes," according to Barclay-White.
Women should be made aware that it is now available and should check to see if they are candidates for the exam. The cost is $300 and it is not covered by insurance.
Arizona Breastnet LLC was founded in 1998 by Dr. Belinda Barclay-White, who has been practicing radiology in Phoenix since 1983. Breastnet specializes in medical conditions related to the breast. Dr. Barclay-White has gained a reputation as an expert mammographer among general surgeons, breast surgeons, gynecologists and primary care physicians, and has acquired a following of patients in the Valley for whom she has diagnosed breast cancer and other various breast conditions. Patients meet with her at the time of the appointment and she reviews the exam with them so they no longer have to worry, wonder and wait for results.
Arizona Breastnet is located at 8994 E. Desert Cove Ave, Scottsdale, AZ, 85260. More information can be found at www.AZBreastnet.com
SonoCiné automated whole breast ultrasound is a computer-guided scanning system that uses sound waves to image different tissue structures. It is the same technology expectant mothers use to see their unborn babies and involves no radiation or injections. There are a limited number of systems being offered to physicians in the US and SonoCiné asked Dr. Barclay-White to be one of the first centers of excellence because of her reputation as an expert in the detection of breast cancer.