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Using mammograms and ultrasounds to detect breast cancer

Some Oregon women may find that an ultrasound is a good supplement to a mammogram for detecting breast cancer. Researchers in a study that appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute examined nearly 3,000 women and found that while they had pros and cons, ultrasounds were ultimately as good at mammograms in detecting breast cancer.

Because ultrasounds are cheaper and more portable, they may be a good solution to testing women for breast cancer in countries where easy access to mammograms is not available. Ultrasounds also tend to be better at detecting masses in dense breasts and detect more node-negative and invasive cancers. However, they also return a higher rate of false positives. This is a concern as it could lead to biopsies and other unnecessary proceedings.

Some experts believe that the mammogram is still the superior test of the two. With mammograms, there is less variation due to the operator, and ultrasounds are more open to misinterpretation. Still, ultrasounds can work as alternatives to MRIs or as supplements to mammograms. Doctors suggest that it is best for patients to consult with their doctors and work out an individual plan according to their medical histories and circumstances.

If a cancer is misdiagnosed or if a diagnosis is missed altogether, it can have profound consequences for a patient. The cancer may spread more rapidly, and the patient might not survive. In other cases, it could lead to delayed treatment, a longer recovery period and poorer health. A misdiagnosis might occur because a test was interpreted wrongly, because a physician failed to follow up on indications of cancer or because a patient’s symptoms are dismissed. Patients who feel that they were misdiagnosed due to medical negligence may want to discuss with an attorney the advisability of filing a lawsuit against the responsible medical facility and practitioners.