Cancer is the leading cause of deaths all over the world. Breast cancer is the number two killer of women in the United States followed by Lung Cancer. In the United States in 2009 there were an estimated 40,610 people, both men, and women that were believed would die from breast cancer. The data shows that patients that survive cancer have an early diagnosis at stage 0 or stage 1 at 98 % over 10 years. This is where technology for early cancer detection is improving testing.

Breast Cancer Technology

There are new technologies in development for the early detection of breast cancer and out of 23 new technologies; only ten have been approved so far by the FDA. Three of these approved are film mammography, digital mammography, and computer aided detection. There are other tools approved but not recommended for singular use but in combination with other testing tools. Positron emission tomography (PET) is one of the approved tools to monitor patient response to treatment for breast cancer. Though this is not a tool to be used for diagnosis or screening for breast cancer.

Approval by the FDA does not mean the tool used for testing is infallible or produces accurate and early testing results in every case. The agency also does not back claims made by manufacturers of these testing devices.

These are the top five approved by the FDA

  • Screen-film mammography was approved by the FDA in 1969, which is an x-ray through the breast tissue that shows denser tissue that is associated with cancer. This dense tissue will appear on the screen-film as white areas.
  • Sonography was approved by the FDA in 1977 as a noninvasive handheld device that reflects sound waves that construct an image that can show abnormalities. This known more commonly by the name ultrasound and can be used in combination with mammograms.
  • Thermography was approved by the FDA in 1982 and uses an infrared digital camera to measure the heat from breast tissue and surface temperature. Higher tissue temperatures are associated with increased vascularities that may be a blood supply to tumors. This testing is used in combination with mammograms.
  • Computer aided detection was FDA approved in 1998 for clinical screening. This tool uses computer algorithms that can show areas on mammograms that should be reviewed by a radiologist.
  • Digital mammography is a digital format for mammograms instead of using film and was approved by the FDA in 2000 to screen for breast cancer.

More Types of Testing Technology

The MRI is used in testing for diagnosing cancer and can create 2 and 3D images. This is a technology that uses magnetic quality imaging by a magnetic field and radio waves to create the image. This testing is close to 100 % in cases of invasive cancer and has a higher sensitivity rate than mammograms. This is a tool used most often for diagnosis of familial and genetic breast cancers.

  • Electronic palpation is a tool used that applies sensors to record resistance of tissues if pressure is applied to develop density maps used in detecting lumps in the breast. This is used in place of a manual clinical breast examination and can measure the size of lesions.
  • Elastography is a tool that maps the breast tissue for mechanical properties and can recognize abnormal tissue. This is a mechanical vibration with imaging similar to an ultrasound in its technology.
  • Diffraction enhanced imaging (DEI) is a modification of mammography but is in the early stages of development. This tool has an increased radiographic contrast that uses a silicon crystal between the patient and film or digital detector so the crystal diffracts certain wavelengths of an x-ray to produce two images. This can show different density and possibly provide more detail to detect tumors in the breast tissue.

Ultrasound Types

There are different types of ultrasounds that can be useful in early detection of breast cancer and they include:

  • Ultrasonography can be referred to as sonommography that can be used to test for abnormal breast tissue results after a mammogram is conducted. This test is done using a handheld device called a transducer. Because of the use of the handheld device to move around the breast, it is possible to miss parts of the breast. The transducer sends an image to a screen and must be retained by the technologist to be read.
  • Mode B ultrasounds is an ultrasound that uses waves that bounce off of the breast tissue creating an image of the breast and abnormalities are identified by the brightness in the image. This type of ultrasound can detect palpable masses that mammograms cannot detect. The Mode B ultrasound is often used to guide biopsies since it is a real time imaging tool. This kind of ultrasound is safe for use on women that are pregnant or nursing that requires breast cancer testing because it does not produce radiation.