The initial results of the study, presented at the American College of Radiology's fall meeting in Washington, found the study authors estimate adding ultrasound approximately finds an additional one to seven cancers per 1,000 high-risk women.
"At this point, it’s not clear whether the benefit provided by ultrasound outweighs the additional expense, stress and inconvenience caused by the false positives," study co-author Dr. Etta Pisano, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said in a statement. "We know that ultrasound does find more cancers. The question is, does it find enough more cancers to make it worthwhile."
Of the 2,637 women at high risk for breast cancer in the study, 41 breast cancers were found in 40 women -- one had cancer in both breasts -- by either mammography or ultrasound. Twelve of the cancers were found by ultrasound alone.
"We had hoped to see a bigger effect of ultrasound compared to mammography," Pisano said. "But I think these results show it’s a mixed picture at this point."