Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Importance of Continued Awareness and Education for Breast Cancer Care

Screening

Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms. Breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. 

GE

GE Healthcare’s oncology portfolio has developed into a range of products that combine imaging, molecular diagnostics and healthcare IT. One of these products is the SensorySuite.

Breast

Breast Cancer Awareness month has tried to highlight the importance of attending breast screenings in detecting breast cancer as early as possible

Breast Cancer Awareness month aims to highlight the importance of attending breast screenings in detecting breast cancer as early as possible and increasing the chances of successfully managing and treating the disease.

Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms. Breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast.

The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis of a woman with this disease.

“Early screening and detection of breast cancer is essential in its management and treatment. Survival rates are improving in developed countries but there is still a lot of improvement needed in poor resourced countries. Many women present with stage III or IV disease which sometimes requires surgery and expensive chemotherapies. Improved outcomes for breast cancer are more likely to happen when affordable screening, surgery and treatment are available. Geographical access is also important and short intervals between diagnosis and treatment can contribute to better survival,” said Claire Goodliffe, Oncology Marketing Manager at GE Healthcare.

“Catching this disease earlier means in most cases you are likely to have less aggressive treatment options."

Ever since GE Healthcare introduced the world’s first digital mammography system in 1999, tens of millions of examinations have been performed with this diagnostic imaging technology worldwide, giving physicians and patients a clinical tool helping lead to early diagnosis. Today there are approximately 17,700 GE Healthcare mammography systems in use worldwide.

Despite the screening coverage that digital mammography technology provides, the fears that women experience when notified of a breast screening may cause some of them to delay or postpone their appointment. Claire Goodliffe believes these fears are based on a lack of information about the screening process, which has become much more patient-friendly in recent times.**

“There is huge anxiety amongst some women about breast screening and I believe more could be done in terms of education by the GP and gynecologist in calming those fears,” she said.

“Many patients go for a screening mammogram completely unaware about what’s going to happen to them,” she added. "The actual procedure usually lasts no more than 5 minutes. It’s very quick. I think the most uncomfortable thing about it is the compression of the breast which typically lasts only twenty seconds.” 

As a response to this as well as ongoing research that demonstrates what a complex and multifaceted disease cancer is, GE Healthcare’s oncology portfolio has developed into a multifaceted and integrated range of products that combine imaging, molecular diagnostics and healthcare IT. One of these products is the SensorySuite.

“It’s beneficial for the woman to be in a screening environment where she will be comfortable and where perceived anxiety is reduced,” said Goodliffe, “The SensorySuite is designed to appeal to the women’s senses creating a relaxing atmosphere that intends to calm the patient and make the screening a more positive experience.” 

A $1 billion 5-year investment was announced by GE Healthcare in 2011 to expand its advanced cancer diagnostic and molecular imaging capabilities, and technologies for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and for cancer research.

September last year saw GE Healthcare invest $32.9 million GE in a state-of-the-art imaging research facility. In collaboration with The University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Medicine and Public Health, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the 10-year research agreement, would see GE Healthcare provide research support, to strengthen its involvement with the collaborative research program with UW.

As insights into cancer deepen and discoveries about this disease are made every day one can only imagine the direction treatments and therapies will take in order to take advantage of this knowledge. Goodliffe believes that there will be an increased use of companion diagnostics that can better determine the efficacy of chemotherapy. GEHC can play a role to monitor therapies and provide clinicians with valuable information to help them manage their patients.

“Studies have shown only 25%of people will respond to chemotherapy, *” said Goodliffe. “This makes it difficult for physicians to determine who will best benefit from a treatment. More and more hospitals are providing genetic testing services and risk assessments that can identify whether a woman is carrying a genetic mutation. They can also provide diagnostic tests to determine if she is more likely to respond to a specific treatment.”


References

* – Modern Science & Future Medicine [Paperback] Gennady Ermak PhD, 2008, ISBN-10: 1419679317 TRENDS in Molecular Medicine Vol.7 No.5 May 2001
** – Barriers to screening mammography, Elizabeth A. Sarma, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 11794-2500, USA, Published online: 14 Feb 2013.