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Ultrasounds may be good supplements to mammograms

Some women in New York and throughout the United States may benefit from ultrasounds to detect breast cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, ultrasounds have some advantages over mammograms.

In some cases, those advantages are dependent on the patient. Ultrasounds appear to be better than mammograms at detecting lumps in dense breasts. The study's lead author recommended ultrasounds as a good supplementary test to mammograms for women who were either not high-risk enough for an MRI or who could not have an MRI. Another advantage is that ultrasounds do not expose women to small doses of radiation as mammograms do. Overall, ultrasounds found more invasive cancers than mammograms did, but they also had more false positives.

One advantage of a mammogram over ultrasounds is that mammograms are not dependent upon the operator or upon interpretation of results. Doctors recommend an ultrasound as a good alternative in a country where mammograms are unavailable and also as part of an individualized treatment plan for some women.

The higher false positive rate for ultrasounds is cause for some concern because these false positives can lead to unnecessary procedures such as biopsies. However, experts say women should have the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons with their doctors and reach a conclusion based on their circumstances.

In some cases, if a doctor fails to perform the necessary tests or follow up correctly, a person might suffer a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis. A medical professional might also misread an ultrasound and miss signs of cancer. In some cases, a medical professional might even misinterpret a person's symptoms. A patient who feels that medical malpractice has occurred may want to meet with an attorney to explore the options that may be available.

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