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Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS)

Not all women are the same.

Did you know that about 40% of women who get annual mammograms have dense breast tissue? Mammograms alone may not be enough to find breast cancer in women with dense breasts, because this type of breast tissue can make detecting cancer more difficult. Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) is the only screening technology specifically developed for women with dense breast tissue.

Breasts with a large proportion of fibrous and glandular tissue on a mammogram are classified as ‘dense.’ Dense tissue appears white on a mammogram. Unfortunately, breast cancers also appear white, making detection difficult. Regardless of size or shape, dense breasts have a substantially higher risk of developing breast cancer than women with breasts classified as ‘fatty.’ Breast density can change throughout life due to age, hormone levels and menopause.

Breast density is determined by the radiologist that reads mammograms and classifies the density into one of the four categories above. The doctor will share breast density with the patient and may recommend further testing based on the classification on the density scale. In North Carolina, mammogram results are now required to include information regarding breast density.

What is ABUS?

ABUS uses ultrasound waves to create clear 3D pictures of breast tissue. The screening process is different than mammography screening. A layer of lotion is applied to the breast and then the machine is positioned over the breast. The procedure takes fewer than 60 seconds and the entire process takes less than 15 minutes. The images will be reviewed by a doctor along with mammogram films.


Women with extremely dense breast tissue have a four to six times greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not. ABUS was specifically designed to find cancers in dense breast tissue and can be used along with traditional mammography. A radiologist may recommend ABUS for a woman with dense breast tissue with normal results from a screening mammogram. ABUS, along with a screening mammogram, will help provide a clearer, more accurate evaluation of breast tissue.