Whole-Breast Ultrasound: A Screening Technology New to the Midstate

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – Myra Brigito takes her breast health seriously, especially since she works for Penn State Hershey Breast Center.

“I knew I had dense tissue and I do have family history, so I took the opportunity to have that done,” Brigito said.

Although Myra’s mammogram seemed normal, she took the opportunity to try ABUS, or Automated Breast Ultrasound technology. It’s not band new, but it’s very new to the Midstate.

“It is something that has become of interest since we’ve understood and been promoting the fact that women with dense breasts do have lower sensitivity to identifying cancer by mammography.” Dr. Susann Schetter of Penn State Hershey Breast Center said.

How does the whole-breast ultrasound work? Lotion is used as a conductor. The machine scans over the entire breast and surrounding tissues, compared to conventional ultrasound which is time consuming and not automated.

“You have to be careful you cover every square millimeter of the breast to make sure you’ve covered all breast tissue, from the clavicle to the sternum and out with a handheld device, so there’s possibility of overlap, there’s a possibility of eliminating some areas,” Schetter said. “With the automated whole-breast ultrasound unit, we’re able to cover the entire area that their breast tissue could exist on the chest.”

“Myra had lesions that were found in both of her breasts, and in one breast it was clearly a number of simple cysts which require no follow-up,” she said.

The good news offered Brigito peace of mind.

“Good to go, good for a year, and I’ll probably be having this screening in addition to my mammogram every year now,” she said.

Schetter stresses the whole-breast ultrasound is not a mammogram replacement. She also says about 70 percent of women who get breast cancer have no family history or known risk factors.

If insurance won’t cover the screening, the cost is $550 for both breasts.

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