Image provided by Are You Dense Advocacy
According to American Cancer Society, dense breast tissue increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer and mammography cannot always depict with complete accuracy cancerous tumors in women with dense breasts. Aunt Minnie reported in December 2016 on Dr. Lucy Spalluto’s talk at RSNA 2016 in which she highlighted an increased legislative focus across the United States to notify women of their breast density following their screening mammogram. Connecticut was the first state to pass a breast density notification law more than seven years ago, now in 2017 the number of states passing similar legislation has grown to 28. The increase in legislative action across the United States in notifying women of their breast density is a step in the right direction. However, the problem arising out of these notification laws stems from the lack of information on what having dense breasts tissue means for a woman’s health and what additional screening options are
available for women once they are told they have dense breast tissue. According to Spalluto, “42% didn’t think the state-mandated letter sufficiently informed them about what to do if they have dense tissue, and 82% did not think that the letter adequately informed women about additional screening options available to patients with dense tissue.”
However, a new option for imaging dense breasts is currently under investigation across the country. SoftVue™, a 3D whole breast ultrasound system developed by Delphinus Medical Technologies, Inc., uses water and sound to capture a 360-degree image of the breast, unlike mammography which uses x-ray. With x-ray, both dense tissue and cancerous masses appear white which make it difficult to differentiate between abnormal and normal tissue. However, cancer and dense tissue have differing acoustic or sound properties that can allow SoftVue™ to detect cancers apart from dense tissue through its advanced use of sound speed and attenuation imaging.
A large National Research Project is being conducted throughout the United States that compares mammography and SoftVue™ imaging in women with dense breasts. The data collected will be analyzed and submitted to the FDA, with the intent for SoftVue to become a supplemental screening option for women with dense breasts. You can learn more about SoftVue™ and the Nationwide Research Project at discoversoftvue.com.