40% of women have dense tissue. And for them mammograms might be missing early detection of breast cancer.
This week I spent some time talking about breasts. GE Healthcare hosted a conversation titled: Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Just knowing your family history is not enough. The session was part of the Working Moms Conference in NYC.
Education. It's a powerful thing. In the first panel--What are the Critical Risk Factors in Developing Breast Cancer--we were introduced to Hooman Hakami the head of the Detection & Guidance Solutions business that specializes in X-Ray Technology. The big news is CESM.
The first panelist was Nancy M. Cappello, PhD: Executive Director & Founder AreYouDense.org. Nancy had 11 normal mammograms before a lesion bigger than a quarter was discovered by her doctor's exam. This was 6 weeks after a normal mammogram! Nancu had 13 matasasized lymph nodes. Why did the mammogram miss? Dense breast tissue. Here's the thing. With dense tissue, cancer doesnt show up on a mammogram.
Need an ultrasound screening for dense tissue. So Nancy has set out to get the right technology to all women. When asked why she has been lobbying so hard of new technology? "Women are driving this movement because it is personal."
Risky business. Women with dense breast are more susceptible to aggressive, harder to treat cancers.
Next we heard from Karen Honrychs. Her cancer was diagnosed just 9 months ago. Thankfully she works as a Microbiologist MTASCP at Cooper University Medical Center--a center that has GE's machine available.
Nancy said she Was aware she had dense breast tissue. She tested out the new CESM" machine. This stands for contrast enhanced spectral mammography. 2 days later diagnosed with invasive cancer.
TIP: Request to talk to your radiologist. Get her/him to explain the mammogram to you. Ask for your radiologist report! You are your best advocate. You need to talk to your doctor, your gynecologist your radiologist.
The next panel--HOW CAN INNOVATION HELP PHYSICIANS DIAGNOSE BETTER THAN EVER BEFORE?--was moderated by Malaak Compton-Rock (Chris rock's wife). She's a full-time philanthropist and moderated the panel with grace.
We heard from Lydia Liao MD Director of Cooper Brest Imaging Centers at University Medical Center. She told us there are two types of cancer that can be commonly missed by mammography. First: SMALL: When you have dense breast the small cancers dont show up. A white spot on a white backdrop. Second: EARLY STAGE: Theser are also commonly missed.
Lydia told us the CESM test reveals abnormal structures and studies the blood network. She pointed out, "Ultrasounds are only as good as your operator." There is no perfect test. The key is to use all the tests to get the best information.
With CESM a small more dosage of radiation (about 20% more than mammogram) is administered. The process takes about 20 minutes.
FACT: Chinese women are at the highest risk. 80% of women in China have dense breasts.
Catherine Tabaka Chief Marketing Officer Detection & Guidance Solutions; GE HealthCare talked about the development of the CESM Machine. In 2011 the device was cleared by the FDA
Globally there are 120 sites that can perform CESM. Only 13 are in the US. In NYC there are two. Why arent there more test centers? Reimbursement costs are a factor and the change of protocol is a factor. Apparently some doctors are dragging their feet to master the new technology.
The big takeaway: We need to take care of our breasts the same way we take care of our hair. Think of the hours you've spent finding the right colorist, stylist, etc. Don't your boobs deserve the same TLC. Replace a hair appointment with a follow-up report with your doctor.
Women have to ask for CESM technology to become available. To find out more http://www3.gehealthcare.com/
This is a program promoted and sponsored by The Motherhood.