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Sansum Clinic Now Offering FDA-Approved Automated Ultrasound System for Women with Dense Breasts

Sansum Clinic is on the leading edge of breast care by now offering the Invenia ABUS (Automated Breast Ultrasound System), approved by the FDA for breast cancer screening as an adjunct to mammography for asymptomatic women with dense breast tissue and no prior interventions.

“We are excited to add the Automated Breast Ultrasound system from GE Healthcare to our comprehensive breast cancer screening program. By offering ABUS in addition to mammography for our patients with dense breast tissue, we anticipate improving detection for small cancers that cannot be seen on a mammogram alone in these women. We believe ABUS will become an integral part of our practice for the detection of breast cancer,” said Jim Benzian, M.D., Sansum Clinic radiologist.

Dense breast tissue not only increases the risk of breast cancer up to four to six times, but also makes cancer more difficult to detect using mammography, according to multiple large studies. One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed mammography sensitivity is reduced by 36 to 38 percent in women with dense breasts, as density masks the appearance of tumors (Boyd, et al, NEJM 2007:356:227-36M). As breast density goes up, the accuracy of mammograms goes down (Kolb et al Radiology, October 2002).

“Mammography is an effective tool for the detection of breast cancer; however, it doesn’t work equally well in all women, particularly those with dense breast tissue,” Dr. Benzian added. “Designed and built specifically for screening, research shows that ABUS technology as an adjunct to mammography has the potential to find 35.7 percent additional cancers that would not have been found with mammography alone.”

The unique challenges of breast cancer screening led to important technology innovations that result in high resolution images that can be acquired rapidly. Clinically, this offers an efficient option that provides enhanced resolution and contrast, making the Invenia ABUS system well positioned to address the workflow challenges of breast cancer screening and improve the detection of breast cancer, in women with dense breasts.

Dr. Benzian recommends that women get regular mammograms as suggested by their doctor, and if they have been notified that they have dense breast tissue, they should talk to their doctor about their specific risk and additional screening tests that might be appropriate.

Sansum Clinic is following the State of California legislated guidelines relating to dense breasts and inconclusive mammograms. Unfortunately, although our legislature has issued guidelines around this additional screening, insurance companies have not yet updated their coverage definitions and still consider this screening to be investigational. At this time, this service is not covered by insurance and patients are asked to make a payment of $225 prior to a screening exam.

The Invenia ABUS was made possible by a generous gift to Sansum Clinic from an anonymous family foundation.

The Invenia ABUS is the first step in Sansum Clinic's enhancement of its Women's Health Program, including expanding 3-D mammography in 2015. If you would like to be involved in this phase, please contact Dru A. Hartley, director of philanthropy, at 805.681.1879 or [email protected].

Click here for further information about Invenia ABUS.

— Jill Fonte is the marketing director for Sansum Clinic.

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