Feature | October 03, 2014 | Melinda Taschetta-Millane

Technology for the Cure

There is no doubt about it that breast cancer is making great strides, but until it has been eradicated, we still need to fight for its awareness. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that about 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2014, and more than 62,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed. About 40,000 women will die from this disease. 

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, with lung cancer at the top of the list. Today, a woman has a three percent chance of dying from the disease. 

However, the number is declining. After increasing for more than two decades, incidence rates began to fall in 2000. According to the ACS, the larger decreases are in women under 50. Earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, and also an improved quality in treatment, is definitely serving its purpose.

The addition of tomosynthesis, a 3-D breast imaging technique, to digital mammography in more than 170,000 examinations was associated with a decrease in the proportion of patients called back for additional imaging and an increase in the cancer detection rate, according to a study in the June 25, 2014, issue of JAMA. In 2011, tomosynthesis was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in combination with standard digital mammography for breast cancer screening. Single-institution studies have shown that adding tomosynthesis to mammography increases cancer detection and reduces false-positive results, according to background information in the article.

In community-based radiology practice, mammography screening with tomosynthesis yielded lower recall rates, an increased overall cancer detection rate and an increased detection rate for invasive cancer compared with 2-D digital mammography (DM). In the largest report to date, researchers at Washington Radiology Associates PC, with offices in Washington, D.C.; Virginia; and Maryland conducted a study of more than 59,000 patients. The results were striking: an increase in the detection rate for cancer overall of 28.6 percent and a 43.8 percent increase in detecting invasive cancers in patients screened with 3-D tomosynthesis versus 2-D DM.

Technology continues to advance. Hologic 3-D mammography was the first FDA-approved 3-D mammography system in the United States. This technology was approved for breast cancer screening and diagnosis in the United States in February 2011, and has been available in countries recognizing the CE mark since 2008. Hologic 3-D mammography technology is in use in all 50 states and more than 50 countries. 

Just recently, GE Healthcare announced FDA approval of SenoClaire, its new breast tomosynthesis solution designed with 3-D imaging technology. In collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, GE developed SenoClaire technology, which uses a low-dose short X-ray sweep around the positioned breast with nine exposures acquired with a “step-and-shoot” method, removing the potential motion from the tube and helping to reduce blur and increase image sharpness. 

Siemens Healthcare recently submitted its premarket approval application (PMA) for the Mammomat Inspiration with Breast Tomosynthesis option to FDA.

And the research and technology to help treat this disease continues. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ITN is proud to go pink in an effort to continue to spread attention and awareness of this disease.