Globally, breast cancer comprises 10.4% of all cancer incidences among women, making it the most common type of non-skin cancer in women and the fifth most common cause of cancer death. Today in a technologically scientific breakthrough, he U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first X-ray mammography device that provides three-dimensional images of the breast for breast cancer screening and diagnosis.

However, the combination of the 2-D and 3-D images approximately doubled the radiation dose the patient received; it improved the accuracy with which radiologists detected cancers. There is uncertainty for radiation risk estimates; however, the increase in cancer risk from having both a 2-D and 3-D exam is expected to be less than 1.5% compared to the natural cancer incidence, and less than 1% compared to the risk from conventional 2-D mammography.

In 2004, breast cancer caused 519,000 deaths worldwide (7% of cancer deaths; almost 1% of all deaths). Breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than in men, although males tend to have poorer outcomes due to delays in diagnosis.

The Selenia Dimensions System, an upgrade to Hologic’s existing FDA approved 2-D system, can provide 2-D and 3-D images of the breasts. The 3-D images may help physicians more accurately detect and diagnose breast cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. And 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There is a 98% survival rate when breast cancer is detected early and still localized to the breast.

Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health comments:

“Physicians can now access this unique and innovative 3-D technology that could significantly enhance existing diagnosis and treatment approaches.”

The Mammography Quality Standards Act requires that all health care professionals obtain eight hours of training prior to using new mammography technology on patients. The FDA also requires that the manufacturer, Selenia, provide each facility with a manual clearly defining the tests required for initial, periodic, and yearly quality control measures.

Most cases of breast cancer cannot be prevented through any action on the part of the affected person. The World Cancer Research Fund estimated that 38% of breast cancer cases in the United States are preventable through reducing alcohol intake, increasing physical activity levels and maintaining a healthy weight. It also estimated that 42% of breast cancer cases in the UK could be prevented in this way, as well as 28% in Brazil and 20% in China.

The emotional impact of cancer diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, and related issues can be severe. Larger hospitals are associated with cancer support groups which provide a supportive environment to help patients cope and gain perspective from cancer survivors. Online cancer support groups are also very beneficial to cancer patients, especially in dealing with uncertainty and body-image problems inherent in cancer treatment.

Not all breast cancer patients experience their illness in the same manner. Factors such as age can have a significant impact on the way a patient copes with a breast cancer diagnosis. Premenopausal women with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer must confront the issues of early menopause induced by many of the chemotherapy regimens used to treat their breast cancer, especially those that use hormones to counteract ovarian function.

Source: Food and Drug Administration

Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.