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Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, FACR

Professor of Radiology, Magee-Womens Hospital
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Current Research

Goal: To improve the precision of breast cancer detection in women with a personal history of breast cancer or who have dense breasts.

Impact: Dr. Berg has been studying artificial intelligence software to enhance breast screening ultrasound. Her research will inform current and future optimal practice of screening in women with a personal history of breast cancer and has the potential to further reduce mortality from breast cancer.

What’s next: She and her team will perform a prospective clinical trial to compare cancer detection and false positive rates using 3D mammography screening versus contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM).

Women who have been treated for breast cancer are at increased risk for recurrence and second breast cancers. Early detection of these additional cancers improves outcomes and reduces the chances the cancer will spread. Unfortunately, current mammography is inadequate in this population, and there is insufficient capacity for widespread MRI, which has been recommended for women with prior breast cancer diagnosed by age 50 or with dense breasts. Dr. Berg is studying CEM, which is a promising low-cost alternative to MRI and may result in fewer false positives.

Full Research Summary

Research area: Investigating ways to improve the accuracy of cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue and those who have previously been treated for breast cancer.

Impact: Current mammography is inadequate for screening women who have been treated for breast cancer and are at increased risk for recurrence and second breast cancers. For women with dense breasts, mammography can miss early lesions. Supplemental screening with ultrasound can be considered in women with dense breasts, including women with a prior history of breast cancer, but this approach is limited by false positives and lack of widespread availability. Dr. Berg is conducting studies of alternative methods of screening these populations that could provide more precise results.

Current investigation: She and her team have been studying artificial intelligence computer-assisted diagnosis (CADx) software to improve recognition of early breast cancer in dense breasts on screening ultrasound by both radiologists and technologists. The investigation is building on the team’s prior work by testing two extreme approaches to CADx: precise detection of cancers vs. precise detection of benign lesions.

What she’s accomplished so far: The CADx software has been implemented directly onto clinical breast ultrasound scanners at Dr. Berg’s University of Pittsburgh clinic allowing she and her team to prospectively evaluate this new technology in the screening setting. 

What’s next: Dr. Berg will compare 3-D mammography (tomosynthesis) versus contrast-enhanced mammography in women with a personal history of breast cancer. This research will inform current and future optimal practice of screening in this group of women and has the potential to further reduce mortality from breast cancer.

Biography

Wendie A. Berg, MD, PhD, FACR, is Professor of Radiology at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and is well known for her role as Study Chair and PI of ACRIN 6666, Screening Breast Ultrasound and MRI in High-Risk Women.  Dr. Berg trained at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she received MD and PhD (Pharmacology) degrees in 1987 and completed residency in Diagnostic Radiology in 1992. She worked on BI-RADS Ultrasound and Mammography lexicons, has authored or coauthored over 90 peer-reviewed publications, co-writes and edits the book, Diagnostic Imaging: Breast (2 editions), has led and authored results of multicenter clinical trials evaluating breast PET and shear-wave elastography, and is currently conducting a prospective multicenter study of screening ultrasound after tomosynthesis in women with dense breasts.  She has received multiple awards for reviewing and research mentoring, and was awarded “Teacher of the Year” by residents of University of Maryland. She was elected an honorary fellow of the Austrian Roentgen Society in 2012 for her contributions to the design of the Austrian Breast Cancer Screening Program. Recognizing her efforts to evaluate and implement supplemental screening methods for women with dense breasts, Dr. Berg received the 2012 Global Breast Cancer Medical Achievement Award from the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. In 2013, she was awarded the Pathfinder lectureship of the American Society of Breast Disease, and in 2015 she received the Pink Ribbon Award from the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. Dr. Berg is Chief Scientific Advisor to www.DenseBreast-info.org.

Grid Researcher Headshot - Berg

BCRF Investigator Since

2016

Area(s) of Focus