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Q&A: Future and Key Challenges of Breast Cancer Diagnosis

David Caumartin, General Manager for Mammography at GE Healthcare, shares how the Company is approaching the future and the key challenges of breast cancer diagnosis.

As we approach Breast Cancer Awareness Month during October, what do you see as GE’s part in supporting the fight against breast cancer?

If we take a look at it, worldwide, more than 1.2 million people annually are diagnosed with breast cancer. Since 1965, GE Healthcare has made significant progress in providing solutions for breast cancer detection and diagnosis that really brings a change to people's lives.

Over ten years ago, GE’s role has been as a pioneer in digital mammography and provides one of the most complete digital mammography systems available today. We have long recognized the importance of early detection of breast disease. As a result of our investments over the years, GE has one of the largest installed base of mammography equipment worldwide.

Can you briefly explain GE's position as to the primary role of digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) and the key challenges in screening mammography?

GE develops and provides a broad range of products and services to enable healthcare providers to diagnose and treat cancer. We are focused on researching new technologies and providing a comprehensive portfolio of solutions to detect disease, diagnose it accurately, and treat it effectively. Basically, it's about connecting our customers with the right tools for confident decisions.

In terms of DBT, GE Healthcare believes that the primary role of DBT will be in breast cancer screening. When performing screening mammography, keeping the radiation levels as low as possible is important.

Our vision is to deliver a DBT product that will have the same screening dose as digital mammography does today. Today the key challenges in screening mammography are imperfect sensitivity, leading to undetected breast cancers, and imperfect specificity, leading to false positive diagnoses. A key endpoint of GE Healthcare's ongoing clinical trials is to demonstrate that DBT may offer the potential to improve sensitivity and specificity without an increase in dose level.

Can you share with us about GE’s healthymagination initiative and how can GE make a difference with its mammography solutions?

Today through GE's "healthymagination" initiative, we continuously develop innovations to reduce costs, increase access and improve quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery around the globe.

As healthcare systems look to lower costs, while increasing quality and access, we see mammography as a key way to enable clinicians to make better, faster, smarter decisions about their patients. To help reduce cost and increase access, GE Healthcare believes in product upgradeability. The Senographe Essential is our platform for future applications when and if they become commercially available. This helps speed technology to market which increases patient access, by allowing a simple upgrade strategy for our customers while reducing cost at the same time.

Today, not all breast cancer is seen with mammography, and we are working on further research and new technologies to detect breast cancer at the earliest stage. Based on scientific studies, the use of supplemental screening with ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging may be appropriate in addition to mammography for women at increased risk of breast cancer.

GE Healthcare invests US$1 billion annually in global research and development to bring to market innovative tools that can potentially help healthcare professionals diagnose disease at an early stage – which ultimately benefits the patient. I am proud to be in the business of finding solutions for healthcare that really bring a change to people’s lives.