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Provista Blog > Asking the Difficult Questions to Improve Breast Cancer Detection

Provista Blog

Asking the Difficult Questions to Improve Breast Cancer Detection

Posted by Provista Diagnostics on October 18, 2016

Detecting breast cancer at an early stage is critical for survival. One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, with a five-year survival rate of 99 percent when detected at an early stage (American Cancer Society). With those figures in mind and the known limitations of current breast cancer detection, it's imperative to ask the difficult questions surrounding breast cancer detection. Improved detection at an early stage translates to lives saved, less extreme surgical procedures and at a decreased cost. 

The Difficult Questions to Improve Breast Cancer Detection

How do I best classify my patient's breast abnormality? 

The Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data Services (BI-RADS®) classification system was created to help healthcare providers categorize breast abnormalities based on their likelihood of malignancy (scale of 0 – 6), but each category covers a wide spectrum. An additional BI-RADS system is also used to categorize the percentage of dense breast tissue that appears in a woman's breasts (scale of A – D); in over half the country density is reported to patients. 

Is it benign or breast cancer? 

Breast abnormalities can present as suspicious or questionable, but ultimately are benign. This can result in uncertainty for patients who receive false positive test results. There is known ambiguity in all diagnostics, which contributes to false positive results. A false positive occurs when an initial finding is identified as breast cancer and then later determined to be benign. 

Am I missing cancer behind dense breast tissue?

Breast tissue is comprised of both fatty and glandular tissue. Increased glandular tissue contributes to an increase in breast density, which can obscure some cancers. Glandular tissue appears white on breast imaging, similar to cancers, which can make early detection more challenging. Legislation in over half the country mandates women are informed of their level of breast density, though the results are reported differently in most states and are not necessarily met with adequate tools to detect cancer.  

Although breast cancer detection has come a long way over the past few decades, we are still faced with difficult dilemmas concerning early detection. Improving detection relies on incorporating new technologies to help identify cancers at an early stage as well as rule-out the possibility of cancer in women with abnormal imaging results. 

By combining the traditional approach of routine breast imaging with additional methods of detection, such as a blood test, breast cancer can be detected at even earlier stages.

Provista Diagnostics

Provista Diagnostics

At Provista Diagnostics, our mission is to develop world-class diagnostic tests for indications in breast and gynecologic cancers. As a leading diagnostics company, our aim is to create, produce and market innovative solutions for unmet clinical needs. Our products and services help to diagnose diseases and inform better clinical decisions, thus enhancing women’s health and quality of life. We do this in a responsible and ethical manner with a commitment to excellence in every aspect of our business.