The Cancer Battle: Moving Toward More Victories with Women’s Imaging Technology

KLAS focuses research on new technologies in women’s imaging and tomosynthesis systems.

The Battle

Cancer has had a profound impact in my life. My father lost his battle 8 years ago and my sister won hers when she was 19, but it was my mom’s fight with breast cancer that was my first exposure to the ugly fight.

I can’t recall exactly how old I was at the time—I was probably around 12 or 13 years old—but I do remember my mom lying on the couch in misery during treatment. I remember the cycle for her chemo; just as she would start to feel a little better, it would be time for her next treatment, and bang, she would be knocked back to the couch.

At the time, I didn’t fully understand everything that was going on. I knew that my mom had felt a lump and that a surgeon we knew from church had removed it. But there was a chance the cancer had gotten into the lymph system, so more treatment was needed.

When it was all said and done, my mom had a mastectomy and what felt like months of chemo. My mom is amazing. She went through that as a single mom scratching to make ends meet. There were a lot of people who helped us out in those times, and I am eternally grateful for that.

The Victory

I am lucky. My mom won and is okay today; she is over 20 years clear! Others haven’t been as lucky.

We all know that early detection is a key to having more positive outcomes. I am blessed to be in a position where I can watch the evolution of medical imaging technology. With breast imaging, the tricky thing is that most women who get imaged don’t have cancer.

This year, KLAS is paying close attention to the changes and developments within the world of women’s imaging. We are focusing our energy on two reports: Breast Tomosynthesis 2013, published earlier this year, and Women’s Imaging 2013, published right after Mother’s Day. It is exciting to see what healthcare providers and vendors are achieving.

Dose requires a delicate balance that new technologies are working to address. We see digital mammography getting clearer while also using less dose. Ultrasound addresses the dose concerns but isn’t as practical. New systems are making it faster and more repeatable. Ultrasound (via elastography) and molecular imaging are helping identify tissue types without biopsies—not to mention tomosynthesis, which trades a relatively small increase of dose for a lot more image.

As KLAS has researched MIS programs and breast imaging modalities, one thing has become clear: there are a lot of wonderfully dedicated and passionate people trying to make the luck I have experienced with my mom commonplace for everyone.

 

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