As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, earlier this month we shared some of the encouraging research advances in 2018 in the fight against breast cancer. If you missed our October Caregivers 101 post, you can read it here. Advances in treatment and possible cures give everyone hope, but we all know that early detection is the best protection. The good news is that science is working on improving detection technology too. So this week we’re sharing with caregivers, home care aides and loved ones some of the ways researchers have advanced screening and detection methods in 2018.

  • April 25, 2018: New breath and urine tests detect early breast cancer more accurately
    • From American Associates and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev: “A new method for early and accurate breast cancer screening has been developed using commercially available technology. The researchers were able to isolate relevant data to more accurately identify breast cancer biomarkers using two different electronic nose gas sensors for breath, along with gas-chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to quantify substances found in urine.”
  • April 30, 2018: Pill for breast cancer diagnosis may outperform mammograms
    • At the University of Michigan: “As many as one in three women treated for breast cancer undergo unnecessary procedures, but a new method for diagnosing it could do a better job distinguishing between benign and aggressive tumors. Researchers at the University of Michigan are developing a pill that makes tumors light up when exposed to infrared light, and they have demonstrated that the concept works in mice.”
  • June 5, 2018: More breast cancers found with combined digital screening
    • At the Radiological Society of North America: “A combination of digital mammography and tomosynthesis detects 90 percent more breast cancers than digital mammography alone, according to a new study.”
  • June 18, 2018: Laser-sonic scanner aims to replace mammograms for finding breast cancer: Imaging an entire breast in 15 seconds
    • At the California Institute of Technology: “For women over 40, mammography is a necessary yet annoying procedure to endure every year or two. The technique, while valuable for reducing breast cancer deaths, is less than ideal because it exposes patients to X-ray radiation and requires their breasts to be painfully squished between plates. The plates flatten the breast so the X-rays can more easily pass through it and produce a clear image.”
  • September 6, 2018: New way to identify telltale markers for breast cancer tumors
    • At the University of Southern California: “Scientists have developed a better way to identify markers for breast cancer tumors, a breakthrough that could lead to better treatment for millions of women. They used machine learning to rapidly sort images of tumors to identify estrogen receptors, a key to determining prognosis and treatment. The technique offers a new pathway for breast cancer treatment that promises faster results for less cost for more people worldwide.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently changed its recommendations for how often women should get mammographies. The Final Recommendation Statement on Breast Cancer: Screening now suggests that women’s screening frequency should be based on their personal risk profile and age, and that the broad ‘every two years for every woman’ rule of thumb isn’t supported by the data. Caregivers and loved ones should be aware of their testing options and consult with their doctors on what ‘regular’ screening means for them.