Breast Center Leads the Way

The Breast Center, a MANA Clinic, Addresses Growing Demand for Ultrasound Screenings; Expands Bentonville Services

Women with dense breast tissue – some 15 million in the U.S. alone – now have an additional option for earlier detection of breast cancer over and above what their annual mammogram can provide. Due to growing demand for breast ultrasound examinations, The Breast Center, a MANA Clinic, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has recently began offering this supplemental screening at their Bentonville location.

The five radiologist team, led by Dr. Steven Harms, a pioneer in breast imaging, has been finding small cancers at unprecedented rates in women with dense-breast tissue (DBT). Approximately 40 percent of women in this country have DBT. Typically, mammography screening detects three cancers in every 1,000 cases. Since offering the automated breast ultrasound exam called ABUS, The Breast Center team has, so far, detected eight cancers in their first 900 ABUS exams (10 per 1000). These are landmark findings in the world of breast cancer detection. Further, The Breast Center, has the distinction of being the only imaging center in the state of Arkansas that offers Automated Breast Ultrasound screening in addition to mammography at not one, but now two locations. According to Harms, the exam is painless, with no radiation, no compression and no injection of a contrast agent. “If these women had continued to only have mammograms, it is likely their cancers would not have been found for years. Finding cancer earlier facilitates more treatment success with less therapy,” states Dr. Harms.

Dr. Kevin Pope, co-founder of The Breast Center says, “All but one of the cancers found were under a centimeter. None of them were visualized on the mammogram and it is satisfying to know we were able to detect these cancers at such an early stage. The importance of finding small cancers means we can help many women avoid chemotherapy.”

Dr. Danna Grear, also a co-founder, knows too well what that feels like. She was the first patient whose mammographically hidden cancer was diagnosed using this technology. Dr. Grear is now a breast cancer survivor and is even more passionate about her mission to educate women with DBT about their options. “Across the country, the dense breast legislation is forcing radiologists to take a look at breast imaging technology that complements the mammogram. While we don’t have current legislation in Arkansas, our team is fighting hard to educate women with DBT on the dangers of stopping at the mammogram. We want to be on the cutting edge of this because, as I know first-hand, it is the right thing to do for women like me who have dense-breast tissue.”

“We are not waiting for Arkansas to pass a Breast Density Inform Law. We are pro-active and notify our dense-breasted patients by letter, letting them know that they have dense-breast tissue and that mammography is not enough of an examination for their tissue type. We urge them to have a conversation with their doctor about what examination is right for them,” says Dr. Kelly Johnson, another member of the Breast Center team. “In the report sent to their doctor, we suggest a supplementary ultrasound exam in addition to their mammogram unless the woman is at high risk, where a breast MRI may be the more appropriate test,” says Johnson.

“Even though mammography is still the standard, it is not a one-size-fits-all examination,” says Dr. Smith-Foley, another member of The Breast Center team. “Mammography uses radiation to see through breast tissue and for women with DBT small cancers are more difficult to detect in a mammogram. Using ultrasound, however, it is much easier to see cancers in dense tissue,”says Smith-Foley. She further states, “Our goal is to find cancers when they are small and easier to treat. By offering the automated whole breast ultrasound exam in addition to a mammogram to our patients with DBT, we are accomplishing that goal, one patient at a time.”

For more information or to schedule an ABUS appointment, Fayetteville call (479) 442-6266 Bentonville call (479) 271-0084.