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Sonocine detects cancer hidden by dense breast tissue



Renown Breast Health Center offers northern Nevada’s first and only whole breast screening ultrasound, SonoCine. The technology detects cancer hidden in dense breast tissue in standard mammogram images.

Lately, there has been some confusion surrounding mammography screening guidelines. The American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists agree in recommending that that women age 40 and older with average risk should be offered a yearly mammogram. Additional researchers state that other risk factors should be taken into account when making a mammogram decision:

  • Breast-tissue density
  • History of biopsy
  • Family history of breast cancer

One thing experts agree on is that mammography saves lives. They recommend women talk with their doctors and determine what’s right for them.

According to Susan Ward, M.D., radiologist with Reno Radiological Associates at Renown Breast Health Center, the latest recommendation is good news because breast cancers found in younger patients usually grow faster than those found in older women and are often harder to detect due to increased breast tissue density.

When women are young, their breasts are made up of the specialized breast tissue that produces milk during breast feeding. This tissue is very thick, or dense. As women age, the breast tissue often changes. Fat replaces the dense milk-producing breast tissue. However, 30 percent of women over age 50 have dense breast tissue.

Recent studies have shown more than 40 percent of all women have dense breast tissue and only 1 in 10 women learn about breast tissue density from their physician. Women with very dense breast tissue have a 6-times greater risk of cancer. Studies also reveal that 60 – 100 percent more cancers are detected in women with dense breasts when SonoCine screening breast ultrasound is added to screening mammography.

Although it remains the recommended evaluation tool and continues to be very good for breast cancer detection, mammograms are less sensitive for women with dense breast tissue, Dr. Ward said. Dense breast tissue shows up as white on a mammogram, just like cancers do. Evaluation of extremely dense breast tissue can be similar to looking for a snowball in a snowstorm.

Experts like Dr. Ward now say adding screening breast ultrasound to an annual mammogram can double the detection rate for small cancers in women with dense breasts.

“Several states have legislated mandates that patients be informed that they have dense breasts,” she said. “Connecticut has mandated insurance coverage for screening breast ultrasound for patients determined to have dense breast tissue type. This type of legislation is pending in other states.”

Right now, in the state of Nevada, screening breast ultrasound is not covered by insurance. SonoCine is used as a supplement to a mammogram and costs $295. However, now through October 31, Renown Health is offering a friends and family special price of $150. Friends and family members of Renown employees need only to provide the name of the employee they know upon scheduling their appointment to take advantage of the discounted, one-time offered rate.

To schedule a screening mammogram or SonoCine screening breast ultrasound, call 775-982-8100. Additional information can be found at renown.org/sonocine.

About Renown Health X-ray & Imaging

Renown Health provides northern Nevada with the latest technological advances in diagnostic X-ray and imaging equipment at 14 sites with three locations with breast imaging tools. Board-certified radiologists who sub-specialize in breast imaging and highly skilled technologists work collaboratively to provide exceptional imaging services. Additionally, all locations are accredited by the American College of Radiology, meaning they have undergone a rigorous review process to ensure they meet nationally accepted standards.

The most advanced healthcare network in the region, Renown provides radiologists and technologists with the equipment and technology they need to provide our patients with the best level of care. With nine locations in Reno and Sparks, Renown X-Ray & Imaging combines convenience with leading-edge imaging technologies.

About Renown Institute for Cancer

Renown Institute for Cancer is the region’s only hospital with 25 years of recognition by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (ACoS CoC) as a comprehensive cancer care. Only 25 percent of hospitals nationwide meet the Commission’s rigorous standards.

Earlier this year, Renown Institute for Cancer earned a three-year accreditation with the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program administered by the ACoS.

The breast cancer accreditation makes it the only healthcare network in the region to retain three cancer accreditations including the region’s first and only Radiation Oncology Accreditation (ACR-RO), earned earlier this year in January, and the region’s first Comprehensive Cancer Program Accreditation.

These three accreditations are the most any cancer program of this size can attain in the region.

Renown Institute for Cancer is also the largest healthcare provider in the area conducting clinical trials with the National Cancer Institute. Clinical trials allow patients to be on leading trends in medicine and often times they become involved in that “next big discovery” for cancer treatments. Leading northern Nevada in cancer research, Renown Institute for Cancer has administered more than 135 trials to 870 participants.

Whether individuals have been referred, are currently receiving treatment or are seeking a second opinion, they can make an appointment at Renown Institute for Cancer anytime. The team of skilled professionals brings expertise and comprehensive resources to patient care. For general inquiries, contact 775-982-6830 or visit www.renown.org/cancer.

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