Provista Blog > How Can Complementary Diagnostic Tools Improve Breast Cancer Detection?
Mammography has recognized restrictions, especially when considering dense breast patients or patients who fall into the gray zone.
Breast Density: 50 percent of women have dense breasts. High breast density is known to obscure cancer on a mammogram, often being described as looking for a polar bear in a snowstorm which can lead to false negative results – results where early cancer is not identified and therefore breast cancer is detected at a later stage. The later breast cancer is diagnosed, the lower chance of survival. Despite this, clinical guidelines vary state-to-state in their recommendations for the use of additional testing on women with dense breasts. In fact, many states do not offer any additional resources for women with dense breasts.
BI-RADS 3 vs. BI-RADS 4A, or the "Gray Zone": A challenging question faced by healthcare providers is whether a biopsy is needed for women with unclear findings in order to detect breast cancer. Approximately 1.7 million breast biopsies are performed annually with 70 to 90 percent resulting in a false positive due to benign breast tissue, which can mimic the look of breast cancer, and creates a stressful situation for patients that could otherwise be avoided.
What if there were a complementary diagnostic tool to detect breast cancer? A new diagnostic tool that did not rely on visual interpretation and allowed healthcare providers to detect breast cancer irrespective of difficult-to-interpret findings?
In an effort to improve the accuracy of early breast cancer detection, complementary blood-based approaches are being developed to help address the current limitations of imaging. By utilizing new methods to complement current means of detection, healthcare providers will be able to improve the accuracy and timeliness of breast cancer detection and help reduce the consequences of false positive and negative results. Earlier detection is directly correlated to increased survival, with an early stage diagnosis of breast cancer resulting in a 99 percent five-year survival rate.
A complementary liquid biopsy approach would help healthcare providers make definitive decisions when imaging is unclear, thus being extremely helpful for patients in the “gray zone” and/or with abnormal imaging and dense breasts. The additional pieces of information gained from this technology can help answer challenging clinical questions and determine the best course of action when “next steps” might be unclear.
We need to add complementary diagnostic tools the current standard-of-care to allow for detection of breast cancer based on physiology as opposed to anatomy alone. Ground-breaking technologies in the form of a blood-based approach will help imaging detect breast cancer more efficiently and more accurately, increasing the survival rate of the disease.
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.