What does it mean to have dense breasts?

There are 4 categories used to determine breast density. Breast density is determined by mammography and having dense breasts is normal as around 50% of women over the age of 40 have dense breasts. Having dense breasts, defined as falling into categories c or d:

  • Increases the risk of developing breast cancer and is a greater risk factor than having two first-degree relatives with breast cancer
  • Mammography misses almost 50% of cancers in women with dense breasts.


How does SoftVue™ differ from mammography?

Dense breast tissue and cancer both look white on mammograms, making cancers harder to detect in women with dense breasts using x-ray alone. SoftVue™ does not use x-ray to image the breast. SoftVue™ is based on ultrasound technology, meaning it operates with the same kind of harmless soundwaves used to image babies in pregnant women. Cancers are easier to detect on ultrasound because sound can move through dense tissue to detect cancer that is blocked by dense tissue on x-ray.

In fact, SoftVue™ has proven to detect 20% more cancers when combined with standard mammography for women with dense breasts.  

In addition, rather than just having one type of image to review for possible cancers, SoftVue produces 4 different image sets of each breast that radiologists can use to determine if cancer is present. That is 4Xs the imaging power, giving radiologists more diagnostic confidence compared to just reviewing mammography alone, potentially reducing unnecessary call-backs and biopsies. 


The SoftVue Experience

The SoftVue™ experience is easy and comfortable, with NO COMPRESSION or NO RADIATION and can be performed on the same day as your mammogram, saving time and hassle.

SoftVue™ features a padded table-top allowing for comfortable positioning as a woman lies on her stomach in preparation for breast imaging. Once on her stomach, the breast is immersed in warm water. A soft gel guide then engages with the front of the breast to center, shape and steady it during the procedure, maximizing tissue access and optimizing the breast profile during image capture.

SoftVue™ uses an imaging ring that surrounds the breast while it is immersed in warm water. The imaging ring emits soundwaves that travel through and around the breast capturing images every 2 millimeters as it moves from the nipple to the chest wall. The transducer does not make contact with the patient during the imaging process. 

The exam takes 2-4 minutes per breast, and when finished, a woman simply lifts up and dries off her breast. After both breasts have been scanned, the physician is presented with full-volume images of each breast, incorporating 4 image sequences, that is reviewed alongside mammography images to determine if there are any areas of concern.

Request an Appointment at Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, MI 

If you are due for your annual mammogram and have dense breasts request your SoftVue™ appointment in combination with your annual mammogram at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.SoftVue™ is covered by existing insurance codes, but coverage and co-pays will vary based on your individual insurance plan.

Call: 1-800-KARMANOS