Dr. Paiva's Story
Rose Paiva, MD
Frustration drove Dr. Susan Ward to seek out SonoCiné. For more than two decades, she had been reading mammograms. And while she knew this standard screening process helped detect breast cancer, she also knew that women with dense breasts were at a disadvantage.
“With the mammogram alone, I could never do the job I wanted to do for those patients with dense breasts,” said Dr. Ward, who received her medical degree from Duke University and completed her radiology residency training at Washington University in St. Louis. SonoCiné was developed to better serve those women.
Using ultrasound technology, the system records a moving picture of each breast, giving radiologists a clear look at the glandular tissue that composes dense breasts.
Dr. Ward, who reads more than 8,000 mammograms and performs more than 200 breast biopsies each year, brought SonoCiné to Renown Breast Health Center in
November 2010, making Renown Health the first and only site in Nevada to offer automated whole breast ultrasound SonoCiné.
“This allows us to do a better job for women with dense breasts,” Dr. Ward said. “Absolutely, it will help us detect smaller cancers.”
A large-scale trial conducted by the American College of Radiology concluded that whole breast ultrasound not only increases the number of women in whom breast cancer is detected, but it also decreases the size at which those cancers are discovered.
According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one-third of women age 50 and older and more than half of women younger than 50 have dense breasts. Ward said at least half the patients she sees have dense breasts.
“Not only is it harder to see the cancers in the women with dense breast tissue,” she said, “but there have been studies produced recently to suggest that dense breast tissue itself may actually be a risk factor for developing breast cancer.
“It’s sort of a double whammy,” Dr. Ward continued. “They may have this increased risk and we can’t see very well.”
Peer-reviewed research published in the journal European Radiology shows that even the most advanced mammography technology is less than 60 percent sensitive for women with dense breasts – those with more than 50 percent dense tissue.
With SonoCiné available in Reno, women with dense breasts now have another option when it comes to screening for breast cancer. In conjunction with traditional mammogram screening, SonoCiné can be used to improve the odds of detecting breast cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage.
“We use SonoCiné in combination with mammography,” Dr. Ward said. “It’s not meant to be used in isolation.” There is no breast compression, no injections and no radiation involved in the SonoCiné screening, which typically takes around 15 minutes to complete.
“It was such a simple, relaxing procedure,” said Dr. Rose Paiva, a Reno-based primary care physician who recently underwent automated whole breast ultrasound with the SoneCiné system. “You don’t have to tiptoe or lean forward. With this one you just lay down.”
Dr. Paiva said she also encourages her patients with dense breasts to schedule a SonoCiné screening, in addition to their regular mammograms.
For those women who may be wondering whether their breasts are dense, simply ask your primary care physician or the technologist performing your next mammogram.
“Your primary care doctor will have your mammography reports on fi le,” Dr. Ward said, “and those reports will indicate whether you have dense breast tissue.”
In an effort to equip patients with the knowledge they need for optimal health, Renown Breast Health Center now sends letters to patients to let them know if they have dense breast tissue and inform them of the benefits of an additional SonoCiné screening.
“There’s a movement now to let women know about their breast density,” Dr. Ward said. “Certain states, such as Connecticut, now require radiology facilities to inform patients of their breast-tissue density composition.
“I think it’s appropriate, ahead of any legislation here in Nevada, to tell our patients if they have dense breasts,” she added, “and that’s what Renown is doing.”
Women with dense breasts are advised to talk to their doctor about SonoCiné. Currently, the procedure is not covered by most insurance companies, and it costs $295.
It is up to each patient and her doctor to decide whether to undergo an additional SonoCiné screening in combination with a standard mammogram.
“Everybody has to make their own decisions,” Dr. Ward said, “but I do believe it is advantageous in finding those small cancers.”
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