Breast cancer is the number one killer of women between the ages of 35-54, according to the National Cancer Institute. Yet, doctors are are not finding the majority of breast tumors until they have already reached between twelve and seventeen millimeters with conventional testing methods. Why? All means of testing are not the same — nor are patients. Variables can include the patient’s age, breast size or shape (“one-size” testing does not fit all), breast density (translation: reflectiveness in a mammogram), previous breast surgery, implants, family history of cancer, and overall patient compliance.
Recently, we were invited to join an intimate group of Hollywood insiders to learn about the latest technology in breast cancer screening. We listened to two brilliant experts, Dr. Barbara Hayden, of the Sound Breast Institute in Santa Monica, and Dr. Patrizia Paterlini-Brechot, of the Université Paris Descartes, as they shared information about some of the more accurate and completely non-toxic options emerging in medicine. Traditionally, women have been offered mammography, Tomosynthesis mammography, handheld ultrasound, MRI with Gadolinium, and the experimental Mammography with Contrast for breast cancer screening. Two new exciting developments could change the way that we screen: the ISET Blood Test and the SonoCiné Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound (AWBUS).
The ISET Blood Test, by Rarecells, isolates solid tumor cancer cells through Circulating Cancer Cells (CCCs) in the blood months or even years before an invasive cancer is detectable by any other means or is able to metastasize. Solid tumors or cells from organs can be identified at the time of early invasions and also before these tumors have metastasized. Circulating Cancer Cells are both rare and fragile; their capture and diagnosis had been nearly impossible until now, and with the ISET there is no margin of error: tumor cells are isolated from blood without loss and identified with no error by cytopathology. While the ISET Blood Cytopathology cannot indicate the origin of the CCCs at this time, research is underway to develop those tests.
The SonoCiné Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound is a comprehensive, systematic ultrasound of all breast tissue from the midline to the back. A robotically-guided transducer directs the technician’s speed and areas to capture movement in a film format, offering a more precise and reproducible record of each area. It is able to detect breast tumors as small as 3 – 5mm, using sound waves, rather than radiation. Nearly 49% of women have dense breasts; for those women ultrasound is superior to mammography and is more likely to find small invasive, node-negative cancers. In women with implants, SoneCiné facilitates evaluation of tissue that is obscured by the implant or unable to be captured by mammography. And we are not just speaking about women — most men are unable to fit their breast tissue into a traditional mammogram. “Because I am a breast cancer survivor and a mother with girls, it is my greatest hope that non-toxic screening options become available for everyone’s daughters,” shares Dr. Hayden.