Automated breast volume scanning makes for a good auxiliary tool in cancer screening

Automated breast volume scanning (ABVS) is an effective adjunct screening tool to mammography and sonography, according to a study published online Jan. 22 in Academic Radiology.

While mammography has been, and continues to be, the mainstay in breast cancer screening, the study authors, including Yuanming Xiao with the Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in Changsha, China, noted it has limitations. They cite decreased sensitivity of mammography in dense breasts and the high rate of false positives and callbacks that result in unnecessary biopsies. Finally, the authors cite the radiation exposure in mammograms that may contribute to increased incidence of breast cancer in certain high-risk populations.

“Although it has not yet been established as a routine screening modality, bilateral whole breast US has demonstrated diagnostic advantages over conventional US in screening asymptomatic women,” the authors wrote. “In this study, we aimed to comparatively evaluate the latest technical advance in bilateral whole breast US—the ABVS that acquires a series of consecutive B-mode pictures and reconstructs three-dimensional data sets of the entire breast volume—against conventional breast US.”

For the study, the researchers analyzed ABVS and US images from 200 women who underwent a breast examination and were recommended for biopsy, and assessed whether 200 breast lesions that were detected by US could be detected and classified using only ABVS findings.

“The sensitivity and specificity of ABVS versus US in determining lesion malignancy were calculated using biopsy as the gold standard,” Xiao and colleagues wrote.

Results showed that in the 200 cases, 273 and 194 individual lesions were detected by ABVS and US, respectively. All of the 194 US-detected lesions were also picked up by ABVS and pathologic examination determined that of the total 273 lesions, 251 were benign and 22 were malignant. All 22 malignant lesions were detected by ASBV.

The sensitivity and specificity of US relative biopsy was 43.06 and 98.36 percent, respectively. For ABVS, sensitivity and specificity to biopsy was 28.95 and 100 percent, respectively.

“US displays superior sensitivity to ABVS across all Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) density categories while displaying equivalent specificity with the exception of BI-RADS density category 1, in which ABVS displayed a slightly superior specificity,” Xiao and team concluded. “As ABVS possesses several advantages and limitations with respect to US, ABVS may serve as an effective, adjunct, screening tool to mammography and conventional sonography.”