New technology in breast cancer detection brings ‘peace of mind’

CHI St. Elizabeth in Lincoln is now offering ‘ABUS’ screening, or Automatic Breast Ultrasound.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 10:13 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Lincoln hospital is one of the first to introduce new technology in breast cancer screening. For many women, it can catch what some traditional screenings might not.

CHI St. Elizabeth in Lincoln is now offering ‘ABUS’ screening, or Automatic Breast Ultrasound. It’s a more accurate way to check for breast cancer in women with dense tissue.

Six years ago, Lori Borer found out she’s one of 40% of women in the U.S. with dense breast tissue from a routine mammogram.

The problem is that it’s harder for mammogram technology to tell the difference between dense tissue and breast cancer.

Borer had to figure out what to do next, to find out if she had cancer.

“We would decide what to do again, if it would be another mammogram or have the MRI done, which we end up going towards having an MRI done, because of the dense breasts,” Borer said.

Borer didn’t have cancer and still doesn’t.

This year, she was one of the first patients to try the latest screening technology for women like her in Lincoln.

Six months ago, CHI introduced ‘ABUS’, a machine that produces a 3D image to help differentiate between dense tissue and cancer cells.

“When I talk to my patients about dense tissue, I usually kind of explained it as like a snow globe,” said Mary Jane Glade, a CHI Health nurse practitioner. “So the denser tissue you have, the more white is present in that snow globe. So it’s really harder to look through it and find abnormalities.”

Glade said ‘ABUS’ doesn’t replace mammograms, but is a supplemental screening. She said the FDA-approved, noninvasive screening allows them to catch 30% more of those abnormalities.

Borer said she plans to have an ‘ABUS’ screen every year with her annual mammogram, something that adds peace of mind.

“Knowing you have dense breast tissue, you’re always nervous about it,” Borer said. “And so having the second line of defense on your side is definitely reassuring. And just knowing how much it’s going to help catch many more cases.”

Glade is working with State Senator Eliot Bostar on possible legislation that requires all insurance companies to pay for supplemental screening for women with dense breast tissue.

Glade said most insurance companies cover the screening, but for those that don’t, or have high deductibles, CHI offers a voucher where women can get this scan for $200.