3 Must-Read Scientific Innovations for Breast Cancer Screening and Prevention
Oct. 17, 2017 at midnight
Around 12 percent of American women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, making it the second- most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Moreover, breast cancer makes up about 30 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers in women. Early detection is critical — 90 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage, survive at least five years. Perhaps, one day, breast cancer will be only a distant memory. Until then, scientists are continuously developing new ways to detect and prevent this disease. Here are three scientific developments in breast cancer screening and prevention you need to know about.
1. Improving Imaging Methods
Researchers are testing and upgrading imaging methods that could detect breast cancer much faster. One of these technologies — an imaging technique called a scintimammography — provide scientists with valuable insights. The method involves a radioactive drug known as a "tracer," which attaches itself to breast cancer cells after scientists inject it into a patient's vein. Researchers then use a special camera to examine cancer cells in closer detail. The latest research looks at improving this technology.
Although still in its early stages, developing scintimammography techniques could prove useful for detecting breast cancer in younger women. Scientists are also looking to improve technologies like electrical impedance- based imaging, optical imaging, and breast ultrasound.
2. Risk Assessment Tests
The latest technology allows doctors to detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stage — something which could increase survival rates significantly. Risk assessment tests like BREVAGenplus assess a patient's likelihood of developing breast cancer based on various genetic factors. How does it work? Well, BREVAGenplus looks at a patient's DNA for the presence — or absence — of genetic markers associated with breast cancer. The test will then determine someone's probability of getting sporadic, hereditary, or familial breast cancer.
"Based on results, your healthcare provider can then work with you to develop an individualized breast cancer risk reduction and screening plan that outlines the most effective means and timeline for monitoring your ongoing breast health," says BREVAGenplus.
3. Blood-Based Cancer Tests
Scientists are also researching blood-based tests that could detect breast cancer after a mammogram. Recent research shows the Videssa Breast test has a negative predictive value of 99 percent. This means clinicians can identify patients who are unlikely to have breast cancer after a mammogram comes back as abnormal and provide them with more reassurance. Moreover, patients might be able to avoid a biopsy.
"The study, published in Clinical Breast Cancer, showed that the test was particularly good at ruling out breast cancer and had the potential to reduce the number of required biopsies by up to 67 percent," says Conn Hastings, writing for Medgadget.
The three developments on this list could detect and prevent breast cancer and save lives. As scientists spend more money on breast cancer research — Americans raise $6 billion every year for breast cancer charities and organizations — expect more technological innovations in the coming years.