HealthDay News — Ultrasound and mammography appear equally likely to detect breast cancer, according to research published online Dec. 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The new study involved 2,600 women living in the United States, Canada, and Argentina who had ultrasound and mammography annually for 3 years. All women had dense breast tissue and at least 1 other risk factor for breast cancer. Separate radiologists interpreted each of the 2 scans the women received.

At the end of the study, 110 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Detection rates were similar between the two tests. Rates of false-positive results were higher for ultrasound compared to mammography, the researchers reported. Overall, the researchers found that 31.7% of 2,552 women without cancer were asked to come back for additional testing at least once after an ultrasound. That compared to 23.2% of women who’d had mammography.

While the detection rate with ultrasound was comparable to that of mammography, “it looks like ultrasound does better than mammography for node-negative invasive cancer,” study leader Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, of Magee-Womens Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told HealthDay.


  1. Berg WA, Bandos AI, Mendelson EB, et al. Ultrasound as the Primary Screening Test for Breast Cancer: Analysis From ACRIN 6666. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016; 108 (4). doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv367.