Breast cancer detection using automated whole breast ultrasound and mammography in radiographically dense breasts

Eur Radiol. 2010 Mar;20(3):734-42. doi: 10.1007/s00330-009-1588-y. Epub 2009 Sep 2.


Purpose: Mammography, the standard method of breast cancer screening, misses many cancers, especially in dense-breasted women. We compared the performance and diagnostic yield of mammography alone versus an automated whole breast ultrasound (AWBU) plus mammography in women with dense breasts and/or at elevated risk of breast cancer.

Methods: AWBU screening was tested in 4,419 women having routine mammography (

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT00649337). Cancers occurring during the study and subsequent 1-year follow-up were evaluated. Sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) of biopsy recommendation for mammography alone, AWBU and mammography with AWBU were calculated.

Results: Breast cancer detection doubled from 23 to 46 in 6,425 studies using AWBU with mammography, resulting in an increase in diagnostic yield from 3.6 per 1,000 with mammography alone to 7.2 per 1,000 by adding AWBU. PPV for biopsy based on mammography findings was 39.0% and for AWBU 38.4%. The number of detected invasive cancers 10 mm or less in size tripled from 7 to 21 when AWBU findings were added to mammography.

Conclusion: AWBU resulted in significant cancer detection improvement compared with mammography alone. Additional detection and the smaller size of invasive cancers may justify this technology's expense for women with dense breasts and/or at high risk for breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary / methods*

Associated data