Providence St. Patrick Hospital Offers Ultrasound System for Screening Women with Dense Breasts

November 18, 2019 Providence News Team

Providence St. Patrick Hospital has just installed an Automated Breast Ultrasound System (ABUS), approved by the FDA for breast cancer screening as an adjunct to mammography for women with dense breast tissue.

Breasts are made of fat and breast tissue. A breast with more tissue than fat is considered dense, and completely normal. 40% of women in the U.S. have dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue has been found to be the most common risk factor for the development of cancer and makes cancer more difficult to detect using mammography. As breast density goes up, the accuracy of mammograms goes down. 

Unlike 2D or 3D mammography, which uses radiation, the Invenia ABUS 2.0 ABUS screening uses sound waves to create 3D pictures of the breast tissue. The ABUS screening along with a screening mammogram will help provide a more complete evaluation of dense breast tissue.

On a mammogram, dense tissue and masses both appear white, so a suspicious lump may be hidden in dense tissue. When dense tissue is scanned with ultrasound, tissue appears white and masses appear black – making them easier to see. 

“We are excited to add the Automated Breast Ultrasound system to our comprehensive breast cancer screening program. By offering ABUS in addition to mammography for our patients with dense breast tissue, we anticipate improving detection for small cancers that cannot be seen on a mammogram alone in these women,” said Roy Zimmer, M.D., a radiologist at Providence St. Patrick Hospital

Dr. Zimmer recommends that women get regular mammograms as suggested by their doctor, and if they have been informed that they have dense breast tissue, they should talk to their doctor or radiologist about their specific risk and additional screening tests that might be appropriate.

“Mammography is the gold standard for the detection of breast cancer; however, it doesn’t work equally well in all women, particularly those with dense breast tissue,” says Dr. Zimmer. “Research shows that ABUS technology as an adjunct to mammography has the potential to find 35.7% additional cancers that would not have been found with mammography alone.

In early 2019, a national density inform law was passed that mandates that the FDA update mammography reporting so that women be notified if their breasts are dense. Providers may offer supplemental imaging as appropriate to help find cancers hiding in breast tissue. 

For questions and interviews, please contact JoAnn Hoven, Providence Montana Communications Manager, at or at 406-241-2919. 

For further information about the ABUS system, visit

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