By Robin Tolkan-Doyle, Beauty Editor
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives. However, when it’s detected early enough, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%.
To commemorate October as Breast Cancer Awareness month, I spoke with Jasmine Khorsandi, a breast health educator and ultrasound technician based in Los Angeles who is making it her mission to empower women with education and early detection with SonoCiné, a new cutting-edge 3D imaging technology that catches early growths before mammograms in women with dense breast tissue. SonoCiné scans can be so life-changing that Jasmine’s practice has caught the attention of many actresses around town including Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, Mindy Kaling, comedian Whitney Cummings, and actress Jameela Jamil.
When did you first come across SonoCiné?
In 2012. I was working as a breast ultrasound technician and I felt my work had just begun. This technology stood out to me because not only was it more effective, it was less damaging. It harbors a radiation-free zone bypassing the discomforts of breast squeezing or injections of contrast agents. Also, it can detect cancer as small as 3mm. in 2008, SonoCiné received FDA 510(k) clearance in the United States as an additional service to a mammogram, but not a replacement. The inventor of SonoCiné is Dr. Kelly who in 2010, did a study combining the mammogram with SonoCiné and detected twice as many cancers, three times as many small cancers with a mammogram alone.
Do several doctors offer this technology to their patients across the country? Or is this an LA thing?
Awareness of SonoCiné is spreading rapidly, more and more states are beginning to offer this technology. Although it is not offered in every state, you can visit SonoCiné.com and type in your zip code to find the nearest office. It is certainly not just an LA thing. I believe all women should have a SonoCiné ultrasound done annually. Many women who have dense breast tissue are not aware of the dangers of only having an annual mammogram done.
Please share some of your early cancer detection stories.
For the past 8 years, I have been detecting cancer that isn’t found in mammograms and saving women’s lives using SonoCiné. Fifty percent of today's mammograms miss the detection of cancer if you have dense breast tissue or breast implants, so it is common. Also, SonoCiné can detect cancer as small as 3mm and the machine is automated so there is no human error. Every week my team and I have success stories of helping women detect cancer that mammograms miss and helping them avoid harsh treatments and even death by detecting it early. I have seen cancer detected in women as young as 25 years old with no family history of cancer. When cancer is detected early and when it is small it is a success story because they are more likely to be cancer-free within 5 years.
Can SonoCiné replace a mammogram?
It is recommended that you do not replace a mammogram. Take precautionary measures by doing your annual mammogram and your annual SonoCiné check. If you have dense breast tissue or breast implants it is crucial to have your SonoCiné check. The mammogram alone misses cancer so often in these two cases and SonoCiné does not. Be sure to do both to make sure you are cancer-free.
What dangers do mammograms pose that aren’t talked about?
Mammograms are harmful to the breasts due to radiation and squeezing. Radiation in itself can cause cancer. Squeezing is harmful to the breast tissue and it can rupture breast implants causing significant damage. Also, it is a dangerous risk to assume you have your results when dense breast tissue is white on a mammogram and so is cancer. The analogy I use to educate women is looking for a snowball in the snow, it is almost impossible. So if you have dense breast tissue it is not safe to only have a mammogram done.
What about the new 3D mammograms? Are they not as effective as the SonoCiné?
The 3D mammograms squeeze the breasts which is uncomfortable and have radiation which is harmful. The experience is unpleasant, but the machine takes more images than a standard mammogram. It is 3D so coming from different angles, which is helpful for the doctor’s analysis. However, it does not make a major difference if you have dense breast tissue which makes a SonoCiné more effective if this is the case or if the cancer is very small. During a 3D mammogram, the radiation process is longer, and the breasts are squeezed even more. Thankfully, a SonoCiné is a much more healthy and comfortable experience. Although the SonoCiné is better, in contrast, I believe women should prioritize taking care of their bodies. It is recommended to do a mammogram and a SonoCiné at least once a year.
Are insurance companies working on eventually covering this costly treatment?
Yes. Currently, I have what is called a superbill which can be submitted to most insurance companies for partial reimbursement. The superbill covers 50% or more depending on your insurance plan and deductible. Kaiser, medical, or Medicare unfortunately do not adhere to the superbill. As an advocate for women’s breast health, my team is working to make it more affordable and accessible for women all over the world.
Anything else you’d like to add that our readers should know?
SonoCiné is not like any other ultrasound technology. Most breast ultrasounds are hand-held by the technician which is not the most effective due to scanning images in the wrong areas or the wrong angles missing the cancer. The SonoCiné machine prevents human error by having the machine scan automatically from the lymph nodes to the chest wall taking 3,000 images and creating a movie. This way the ultrasound technology can most accurately scan without missing any areas.
Photo Credits: Jasmine Khorsandi and SonoBreasts.com