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Gunnison Valley Health now offering Automated Breast Ultrasound Screenings

Thanks to a generous donation from Cattlemen’s Days Tough Enough to Wear Pink, Gunnison Valley Health is one of the only hospitals on the Western Slope to offer automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) screenings for women with dense breast tissue. This breast cancer screening is specifically developed to help doctors find cancers hidden in dense breast tissue, which may be missed by mammography.

Having dense breast tissue is normal; it is a part of you, like having green eyes or brown hair. Dense breast tissue is common; 40% of women have dense breast tissue. Here in the Gunnison Valley, it is even more common; more than 50% of women have dense breast tissue.

Cattlemen’s Days Tough Enough to Wear Pink Executive Director, Heidi Sherratt, said the higher prevalence in the valley is one of the reasons her board of directors decided to fund the ABUS equipment.

“We want to ensure that women in the valley have access to the right services to meet their needs,” Sherratt said. “We already have the best possible mammography equipment, and after hearing from the team at GVH, we knew that having access to the ABUS screening was necessary for our community.”

On a mammogram, dense tissue and masses both appear white, so a suspicious lump may be hidden in dense tissue. When dense tissue is scanned with the ABUS, tissue appears white, and masses appear black – making them easier to see.

ABUS screenings are available only with a referral from a physician and women need to know that the recommendation does not mean that the radiologist identified any areas of concern on the mammogram. ABUS screenings are supplemental screenings recommended for women with dense breast tissue.

Gunnison Valley Health radiologist, Dr. William Graf, said that the ABUS technology will not replace a woman’s annual mammogram, it is one piece in a comprehensive spectrum of imaging services.

“Mammography remains the gold standard for breast cancer screening, but there are women who require supplemental screenings to provide the most effective screening,” Dr. Graf said. “Women with dense breast tissue have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. The addition of ABUS screenings will help us detect cancer earlier and save lives.”

Gunnison Valley Health CEO, Jason Amrich, expressed his gratitude for Tough Enough to Wear Pink and their continued commitment to improving local cancer prevention and care services.

“We are fortunate to have a strong partnership with Tough Enough to Wear Pink; their support of local healthcare enriches available services,” Amrich said. “In addition to funding the purchase of the ABUS equipment, they are partnering with the GVH Foundation to help uninsured women access this life-saving cancer screening. They are a tremendous resource for everyone in our community.”

To learn more about the ABUS screening, visit