Are you at high risk for breast cancer?


A woman’s chance of beating breast cancer significantly increases if detected early through regular mammograms. Breast cancer researchers at Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, the comprehensive cancer program at Sunnybrook & Women’s, are leading the way in breast cancer detection and prevention.

A new breast cancer clinical trial at Sunnybrook & Women’s has begun enrolling women who are at increased risk of breast cancer. The breast ultrasound screening research study, conducted by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) and funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Avon Foundation, will evaluate the role of ultrasound as an additional screening tool for high-risk women with dense breasts.

“Mammograms are currently the best diagnostic imaging technology available for the early detection of breast cancer, but early studies show some compelling results indicating that detection may be improved with the addition of ultrasound,” says Dr. Roberta Jong, Division Head, Breast Imaging and principal investigator at Sunnybrook & Women’s. “We hope this study will show an even better technology to identify lesions in mammographically dense breast tissue at the earliest possible stage when the prognosis is more hopeful.”

Mammographically dense breasts typically have a higher risk of developing cancer and provide a background where it is more difficult to detect cancer.

“The benefit of using ultrasound is that it is widely available, inexpensive in comparison to imaging technology such as MRI, and an acceptable diagnostic procedure for women,” says Dr. Jong.

“These trials give women at increased risk of breast cancer an advantage by providing regular screening with both mammography and ultrasound and regular monitoring by breast cancer researchers,” says Dr. Kathy Pritchard, Chair of the Breast Cancer Site Group and Head of Clinical Trials and Epidemiology at Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre. “It’s an excellent diagnostic option that combines regular screening and monitoring while supporting important breast cancer research programs.”

Currently, more than 3000 women are enrolled in breast imaging clinical trials at Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre. Sunnybrook and Women’s is also home to the only two Canadian sites in the large ACRIN trial with 49,500 women enrolled comparing the accuracy of digital versus film mammography. All mammography in that study called DMIST – Digital Mammography Imaging Screening Trial, has been completed and results will be available in early 2005.

For more information about the ACRIN clinical trial, please contact the clinical research associate Shannon Howcroft at 416-480-5496.