For people with breasts, getting your regular screenings for breast cancer is an important part of being an active participant in your health. After all, according to the American Cancer Society, when detected early in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is 99 percent.
For Los Angeles-based ultra sound technician and breast health educator Jasmine Khorsandi, of SonoBreasts, working to help more and more people understand their breasts and the ways they can most accurately and effectively detect cancer early is something she’s deeply passionate about. With clients including Gwyneth Paltrow and an instagram (@sonobreasts) following at more than six million, Khorsandi has been particularly vocal about ensuring people’s vision of effective early breast cancer screenings going beyond just mammograms.
Enter SonoCine: A painless, radiation-free way to scan thick breast tissue (including through implants) to detect “traces of cancer as small as 3mm” — and the method Khorsandi wants more of us to know and understand as well as we do our standard mammograms.
Khorsandi shared with SheKnows a bit about the effectiveness of the SonoCine and why this work remains so close to her heart.
The following has been condensed for length and clarity.
SheKnows: What is the SonoCiné machine and how is it different from other devices used in breast cancer ultrasounds?
Khorsandi: 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.
Apart from the technology, gathering data and analysis is what makes this method stand out. After the images are captured using a system that is automated, therefore errors can not be made and no areas are missed. The images are then studied by a doctor who can separate the tedious task of overseeing ALL the tissue and leading a professional screening process. Once the process is complete the results are sent to your SonoCiné technician, whom you already know and trust, so that you can discuss the next step with confidence that everything was observed carefully by the most qualified professionals.
SK: Who are SonoCiné ultrasounds for?
Khorsandi: Every woman should get a SonoCiné as soon as they notice something abnormal. It is important at every age to listen to your body and never to ignore your intuition. Otherwise, 25 is a good age to have your first SonoCiné scan. 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.
I am passionate about explaining the importance of maintaining your health, checking in with a professional at least once a year and paying close attention to your body in a loving and caring way. Part of caring for yourself and loving yourself is showing up to your annual screenings and having peace of mind that your health is a priority.
It is important at every age to listen to your body and never to ignore your intuition
SK: What’s the process like and what can patients expect experience-wise? What kind of data/information can they find out about their breast tissue?
Khorsandi: The process of receiving a SonoCiné scan is awesome! The office is feminine, comfortable and I always do my best to provide a peaceful experience for every client. The scan is done without radiation or squeezing of the breasts and it feels like a gentle glide over the skin. The scan is thorough taking 3,000 images from the lymph nodes all the way to the chest wall avoiding any human error. It is truly a good and reassuring feeling to know that you will be taken care of without missing any problem areas. The data and information obtained includes what kind of breast tissue you have, if there are any problems with implants (rupture), or if there are any tiny traces of cancer as small as 3mm.
SK: What are some things people misunderstand or maybe don’t consider when they go about their breast cancer screenings?
Khorsandi: Cancer does not discriminate, I have seen cancer detected in women as young as 25 years old with no family history of cancer. It is so important to get the best scan possible which is the automated SonoCiné at any age or breast density. Mammograms are harmful to the breasts due to radiation and squeezing. Radiation in itself can cause cancer. Squeezing is harmful for 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. Even the 3D mammograms squeeze the breasts, 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.
SK: What are a few important must-knows and must-dos for women who are at risk of breast cancer?
Khorsandi: For women at risk my words of wisdom for you are: Pay close attention to your breast health, do your daily breast exam feeling for anything that needs to be double checked by a professional. Never ignore a bump or your inner voice if you feel something is wrong. Go seek your most trusted breast health specialist. SonoCiné is helping women everyday with the most thorough examinations. Take precautionary measures by doing your annual mammogram and your annual SonoCiné check. Keep your loved ones informed, support is crucial during this process. Focus on healings and the things you truly love and believe in. I believe faith and love can heal your mind which can have a positive effect on your state of being. Be open to sharing your experience and use your voice to help other women who can prevent going through chemotherapy or harsh treatments. Keep fighting and keep your head high, all women have the right to a loving relationship with their body no matter how difficult the circumstances may be.
Never ignore a bump or your inner voice if you feel something is wrong. Go seek your most trusted breast health specialist.
SK: How can more women/people with breasts be proactive about the health of their breasts?
Khorsandi: Be proactive with your breast health by incorporating a healthy diet, daily meditation or self love practice. As I mentioned, having your annual SonoCiné and mammogram exams done. Listen to your inner guidance system and create a connection with your higher self mentally, emotionally and physically for it is all connected. I believe stability comes from honoring all aspects of yourself. Also, devote yourself to something that you love. It could be a project, your family, a spiritual practice, anything as long as you are finding joy and causing no harm to others it will bring you purpose and a sense of worthiness that brings peace, happiness and healing into your life. Your breasts are located on the heart which is an energy center made for giving and receiving love!
SK: How did you first begin looking into helping individuals with dense breast tissue in particular?
Khorsandi: I worked as a breast ultrasound technician under someone else for four years, from my experience I was aware that the SonoCiné machine I was using was the best technology for women with dense breast tissue or implants. 40 percent of women have dense breast tissue meaning the tissue is more fibroglandular and appears white on the mammogram as does cancer. You can’t see the cancer when this is the case. For women with these conditions, 50% of today’s mammograms miss the detection of cancer. Doctors, radiologists and gynecologists need to educate their patients on the type of breast tissue they have and on their options for screening because not doing so is putting their lives at risk.
However, a SonoCiné ultrasound can more clearly detect these tiny tumors or abnormalities in the early stages. Unlike other ultrasounds, SonoCiné machines steer clear of human error taking 3,000 images all the way from the lymph nodes to the chest wall opposed to handheld ultrasounds which only take 3-4 images. SonoCiné ultrasound detection avoids the harmful effects of radiation and painful experiences of multiple biopsies.
SK: What’s your origin story for getting into breast cancer screening tech and research?
Khorsandi: I was raised to strive for success and in my household we valued homeopathic medicine. I was aware of the drive passion gives an individual to pursue greater things. So I knew I wanted to do something I was extremely passionate about, since I was always fascinated by natural remedies I considered a career in health-care. However, my relatives and close loved ones were from Iran where they have different solutions to disease in the body than here in the states. The turning point for me was realizing breast cancer awareness and early detection was saving women’s lives, and for some the lack thereof was the reason they are no longer with us. My best friend lost her mother, whom I was very close with. This was when I knew what I wanted to do; what I wanted to prevent. Outdated technology and human error has devastated families across the globe. Luckily, my support system was there for me cheering me on through technician school and through obtaining the best technology for breast cancer screening. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for my family and friends. I am so grateful and I continue to make them proud by doing the best I can everyday to spread breast cancer awareness.
Before you go, check out these products breast cancer patients and survivors can actually use: