Breast cancer is a disease in which most commonly occurs in all women no matter their size, shape, race, or ethnicity. About one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every year, a fatal disease if not discovered early. Early detection of breast cancer is key so that cancerous cells found in the breast do not spread through other parts of the body.
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With an increasing prevalence in breast cancer today, the evolution of technology has been improved in order to both prevent and stop cancer in its entirety. Breast cancer, a major concern in the medical community today, motivates many to undergo screening every year and the new medical advances in 3D screening that evolve regularly; although no cure has been found for breast cancer, early detection and new and advanced technologies in both prevention and reconstruction can result in many lives being saved.
Discoveries within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as the first radical mastectomy performed by Stewart Halsted and the first mammograms performed by Albert Solomon, have rapidly progressed throughout time to continue to advance in the treatment and cure of breast cancer. Many other prevalent detections, new advancements, and innovations have been created throughout recent years to help aid a cure for breast cancer. Medical centers throughout the world are studying new ways to early detect, prevent, and cure breast cancer entirely. Although new technology has become available, the increase in prevalence of breast cancer has only expedited. “About 40,920 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2018 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.” Breast cancer can occur almost anywhere in the breast. This makes it even more important for women to conduct self- breast exams monthly and get mammograms yearly. Self-examinations allow women to feel for any abnormal bumps early, and mammography detects cancerous cells in the breast, and often early symptoms of breast cancer.
Early detection of breast cancer is finding the cancerous cells before they spread to any other part of the breast. “Early detection means using an approach that allows earlier diagnosis of breast cancer than otherwise might have occurred. Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer save many thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.”3 Getting regular early screenings or mammograms are an important factor in lessening the risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately, for many breast cancer patients before the nineteenth century treatment options such as bloodletting and purging only led to more suffering and a slower death.4 Many women decide to not participate in yearly mammograms because of various reasons. Those reasons may include that the test is too expensive, women fear that doctors will find cancer in their breast, or they don’t have medical insurance. This is why education and outreach about breast cancer are extremely imperative.
The most common form of technology used to detect breast cancer would be a screen-filmed mammography. This machine takes X-Rays of the breast from center to side for women over the age of forty. After the mammogram is complete, radiologists use another form of technology called Computer Aided Detection, or CAD. CAD is used to detect any other suspicious areas on the mammography test. “CAD double-checks the work of the radiologist to help avoid possible oversights. This device can either scan a mammographic film with a laser beam and convert it into a digital image or obtain images directly from a digital mammography system. The radiologist can see if any of the highlighted areas were missed on the initial review and require further evaluation”.5
A new type of technology developed to determine breast cancer includes Scintimammography, which is a newer form of imaging tests. “In scintimammography, a slightly radioactive tracer called technetium sestamibi is injected into a vein. The tracer attaches to breast cancer cells and is detected by a special camera”.6 This new technology is still studied, but researchers believe that using this advancement will help locate more delicate areas of the breast where a mammogram cannot reach.
Tumor profiling is another form of advancement to help cure breast cancer. Tumor profiling allows researchers to better understand genes in cancer cells. In this article found on the Susan G. Koman website, the ability to profile thousands of genes found in tumors is helpful in determining how likely breast cancer will reoccur and probable treatment. “The gene profiles of some tumors may help predict whether the cancer is more likely to recur and metastasize. Tumors with gene profiles showing a high risk of breast cancer recurrence or metastasis may be more likely to benefit from chemotherapy than tumors with gene profiles showing a low risk”.7
Due to the advancements in technology, genetic testing of breast cancer has become an option for women. “Many people decide to learn whether or not they have an abnormal gene that is linked to higher breast cancer risk. Three of the most well-known abnormal genes are BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2.”8 Genetic testing can be beneficial for women who have a family history of breast cancer. Discovering the gene mutation before diagnosed gives women the ability to make proactive choices about their health.
Today, one of the most effective ways to discover breast cancer is through 3D mammography. 3D mammograms, one of the newest breast cancer screenings, is used in place of regular mammograms because it can detect more than just the average mammogram will recognize. A valuable source states, “3-D mammography is another way to refer to digital mammography with tomosynthesis, in which a machine takes many low-dose x-rays as it moves over the breast. The images taken can be combined into a 3-dimensional picture, which may allow doctors to see inside the breast more clearly than with a standard 2-view mammogram, and possibly find more cancers.”9 Many women chose to use this new form of technology rather than the 2D mammography because it is being proven to be more potent in discovering early detection of breast cancer. The goal of this new technology is not only to help women detect their cancer earlier but to ultimately save more lives from this deadly disease.
When individuals learn they have breast cancer or have a high risk of obtaining this disease, many actions can be taken to remove cancerous cells depending upon the stage diagnosed. One type of action could be a single or double mastectomy, the removal of a breast or both breasts through surgery. Many women with high risks of breast cancer prefer to take preventative measures to lower their chances, yet many of these preventative actions are not always effective. One website explains, “Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy lowers the risk of breast cancer in woman at high risk by at least 90 percent.”10 Mastectomies are proven to eliminate the odds of breast cancer by a significant amount; however, they are not confirmed to ultimately eradicate breast cancer in its entirety. Some women after having surgery want to take measures to reconstruct their breast using implants to make the breast appear as normal as possible. The process of a mastectomy and reconstruction are both very tedious and can take years to complete.
Breast cancer is a very severe disease that can affect any type of individual. Though it can occur to whomever, various amounts of new technologies can easily detect the smallest cancerous cells throughout the breast. Over time, scientists have been able to use these innovations to not only eliminate cancer but also to reconstruct women’s breasts if they so choose not to have an everyday reminder of their strong battle of fighting this terrible disease. Through the process of 3D screenings, CAD’s, mastectomies, and lumpectomies, early detection of this disease can result in many lives saved each year.
“Diagnosis.” TDRBCF, tdrbcf.org/love-your-breasts/diagnosis/.
“Emerging Areas in Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy and Targeted Therapy.” Susan G. Komen®, ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/ChemotherapyandTargetedTherapy.html.
“Genetic Testing – Breastcancer.org – Breast Cancer …” Genetherapy RSS, 4 Apr. 2016, www.genetherapy.me/genetic-testing/genetic-testing-breastcancer-org-breast-cancer.php
Joy, Janet E. “Breast Cancer Technology Overview.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22310/.
Kruger, Garth. “Albert Salomon | Radiology Reference Article.” Radiopaedia.org, radiopaedia.org/articles/albert-salomon-1.
Olson , James S. “Bathsheba’s Breast: Women, Cancer and History.” New England Journal of Medicine, 31 Oct. 2002, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200210313471820.
“Prophylactic Mastectomy – Preventive Surgery.” Susan G. Komen®, ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/PreventativeSurgery.html.
Simon, Stacy. “Breast Cancer Screening with 3-D Technology Finds More Cancers.” American Cancer Society, 25 June 2014, www.cancer.org/latest-news/breast-cancer-screening- with-3-d-technology-finds-more-cancers.html.
“U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” Breastcancer.org, 16 Oct. 2018, 7:37am, www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics.
“What’s New in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.” Houston Lifestyles & Homes Magazine What Is the Best Carpet for Your Home? – Houston Lifestyles & Homes Magazine, houstonlifestyles.com/whats-new-in-breast-cancer-research-and-treatment/.
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