Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A tool that finds 3x more breast tumors, and why it's not available to you (TED Video)

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"The breast has become a very political organ."

Physician Deborah Rhodes details her collaboration with a team of physicists to create a cheaper, more effective, and perhaps most importantly, painless diagnostic breast cancer technology called MBI.

Whether you have breasts or just care about someone who does this is a must watch. This serious and informative video, which I admit to giggling at for the first few minutes, is roughly 20 minutes long and so I've distilled it into about a minute's worth of bullet points for those who don't have time to watch it in full.

  • Breast Density is major factor in breast cancer diagnosis
  • Denser breasts are less amenable to traditional mammography methods because dense breast tissue looks very similar to cancerous tissue. This leads to a high proportion of false negatives.
  • Breast Density is a strong predictor of developing breast cancer. It is actually a stronger predictor than having a mother or sister with breast cancer.
  • The Density rating of your breasts is available on your mammogram report
  • In current mammography the law requires that the equivalent of a 40lb car battery come down on your breast during this procedure, (mammogram).
  • The speaker and her colleagues have developed a breast screening method known has Molecular Breast Imaging or MBI (FDA approved). MBI technology uses light pain free compression and is impervious to the diagnostic problems associated with breast density
  • MRI also has high levels of diagnostic efficacy but is plagued by a much higher cost and requires a notoriously high level of expertise in order to interpret results. MBI is eminently more cost-effective and requires far less technical skill for diagnosis (which I imagine would further lower the cost).
  • The speaker believes that adoption of this technology will be unreasonably slow due to the large financial stake of current breast screening technology, and has already reported some unsavory political hurdles.
  • For this reason the speaker has abrogated financial ties with the technology so that she can continue to raise awareness without marshaling doubt as to her motives.
  • Ask your doctor about this technology the next time you get a check-up.

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