Beaumont Health first in Michigan to test 3-D whole breast ultrasound in research study

Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn is one of eight centers in the nation participating in research aimed at improving the detection of breast cancer in women.

Beaumont, Dearborn’s Breast Care Center is evaluating a new three-dimensional whole breast ultrasound device for women who have dense breast tissue.

The technology, called SoftVue*, is a 3-D, whole-breast ultrasound system designed to assist physicians in distinguishing normal tissue from areas in the breast that may require further testing, particularly for women with dense breasts.

“Dense breast tissue occurs in more than 40 percent of women, and there are no telling markers as to why some women have denser breast tissue than others,” said Sophia Roumanis, M.D., radiologist and principal investigator, Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn. 

Beginning at age 40, women typically have annual mammograms to detect cancerous lumps in the breast. For most women, mammography is effective at the early detection of breast cancer. For women with dense breast tissue, mammography by itself may not be enough.

“Dense breast tissue can mask potential tumors, so women are often sent for secondary diagnostic testing, such as breast ultrasound,” said Dr. Roumanis. “If proven successful, this ultrasound technology will allow women with dense breast tissue to have a more accurate reading that will hopefully allow for earlier and better detection of cancerous lumps.”

SoftVue is a fully automated, gentle and comfortable system that conducts scans while a woman relaxes on her stomach with her breast supported in a warm water bath. A 360-degree ring transducer images the entire breast in a single pass, moving from the front of the breast to chest wall, without the radiation and compression associated with other imaging systems. The unique circular transducer can evaluate multiple distinctive tissue qualities to provide physicians with an understanding of the tissue within the whole breast from the chest wall to the nipple. The exam lasts about 2-4 minutes and the captured signals are analyzed using sophisticated algorithms that provide cross-sectional slices of the entire volume of breast tissue.

The trial has a goal of testing 10,000 women nationwide, with about 1,500-2,000 women being tested at Beaumont, Dearborn.

Qualified research participants will have both screening mammography and SoftVue exams. Imaging information gathered from the project will compare SoftVue to digital mammography, and measure its effectiveness in finding cancers that are not seen with mammography alone.

Women with dense breast tissue who would like to participate in the clinical trial should contact the Beaumont, Dearborn Breast Care Center by calling 313-593-8090.

*SoftVue is an investigational device and is limited by United States law for investigational use.

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