Some tools under study for breast cancer screening and early detection are discussed below.
Three-dimensional (3D) mammography (also called breast tomosynthesis) is becoming more widely available and may be considered for breast cancer screening. However, whether 3D mammography is better than standard 2D mammography for breast cancer screening is still under study [62,68-70].
3D mammography is also under study for use in breast cancer diagnosis and staging.
Other tools under study are discussed below. More research is needed to know whether these tools may play a role in breast cancer screening for all women or certain groups of women at higher risk.
Nuclear medicine breast imaging (also called molecular breast imaging) uses short-term radioactive agents (also called a tracer) that are given by vein (through an IV). The tracer is absorbed into tissues, including the breast.
Breast cancer cells appear to absorb more of the tracer than healthy cells. The cancer cells can then be imaged with a special camera.
Nuclear medicine breast imaging is under study for use in breast cancer screening, diagnosis and staging. Some studies are looking at the combination of nuclear medicine breast imaging and mammography for screening women with dense breasts .
A woman getting nuclear medicine breast imaging is positioned in a similar way as with mammography. Each breast is pressed between two plates and the machine takes images.
Two types of nuclear medicine imaging techniques are:
A main concern about the use of BSGI and PEM for screening is that they give a dose of radiation 15-20 times higher than the dose from a mammogram . Ways to lower the amount of radiation exposure are under study .
Although still under study, BSGI and PEM are used in clinical practice, but are not widely available.
Thermography uses infrared light to measure temperature differences on the surface of the breast. Breast cancer may cause abnormal heat patterns. However, there is no solid scientific evidence that thermography measures of heat can help find breast cancers .
Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the American College of Radiology views thermography as a useful breast screening or imaging tool [72,75].
In 2011, the FDA issued an alert warning the public about misleading claims by thermography practitioners and manufacturers on the screening benefits of the tool . To read the full alert, visit the FDA website.
If you are interested in joining a clinical trial studying new screening methods, talk with your health care provider.
BreastCancerTrials.org in collaboration with Susan G. Komen® offers a custom matching service to help you find a clinical trial on breast cancer screening.
Learn more about clinical trials.
Our commitment to research
At Susan G. Komen®, we are committed to saving lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer. Our Research Program is an essential driving force for achieving this mission. Since our inception in 1982, Komen has provided funding to support research grants that have greatly expanded our knowledge of breast cancer and helped us understand that breast cancer is not just a single disease but many diseases, unique to each individual. Going forward, our commitment to research will contribute significantly to our ability to achieve our bold goal of reducing the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026.
To date, Komen has provided more than $920M to researchers in 48 states and 21 countries to support research that has resulted in a better understanding of breast cancer; earlier detection; personalized, less invasive treatments for what was once a “one-treatment-fits-all” disease; and improvements in both quality of life and survival rates.
Learn more about our continuing investment in research and the exciting research that we are funding, because nothing would make us happier than ending breast cancer forever.
Komen funds research looking at new methods of early detection.
One new method is breast ultrasound tomography, a tool that uses ultrasound technology. Breast ultrasound tomography may give information on breast density by measuring the speed that sound waves travel through the breast .
Komen is also funding research on the use of molecular breast imaging for screening women with dense breasts.
Learn about the latest research on breast ultrasound tomography, molecular breast imaging and other topics that Komen is funding in our Stories of Discovery.
Facts for Life: Breast Imaging Methods
Research Fast Facts: Early Detection
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