Maryellen Giger, PhD, and colleagues gathered a cancer-enriched set of screening mammography and ABUS exams from asymptomatic women with breast density BI-RADS 3 or 4. Seventeen radiologists first interpreted the mammography images alone, then interpreted the mammography images with ABUS.
Giger's team used area under the receiver operator characteristics curve (AUC) to assess readers' performance with mammography alone versus mammography plus ABUS.
Mean AUC across all readers was 0.604 for mammography alone and 0.747 for mammography plus ABUS, the group found. Specificity was comparable, at 78% for mammography alone and 76% for mammography with ABUS. But ultrasound improved the overall sensitivity across all readers, from 38.8% for mammography alone to 63.1% for mammography plus ABUS, an increase of 23.3 percentage points.
Does automated breast ultrasound boost mammography's performance? Yes, Giger's group concluded, and the technology can be expected to benefit women with dense breast tissue by providing earlier detection of cancers missed at mammography.