How Breast Cancer Screening Methods Have Evolved Over The Years

The methods of breast cancer screening have evolved a lot over the past few years. Here's what the expert said. 

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaUpdated at: Dec 05, 2022 17:03 IST
 How Breast Cancer Screening Methods Have Evolved Over The Years

Breast cancer also has an extremely high rate of persistence, increasing by 3% to 5% on average every year. Not only does the treatment of breast tumours have its own significant challenges, but the lengthy diagnosis process and inadequate diagnostic methods also create problems for people. Therefore, early detection of breast tumours will enable us to better manage and treat them in the early stages. OnlyMyHealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Kanury V S Rao, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), PredOmix, to know more about breast cancer screening methods. 

Breast Cancer Screening Methods 

1. Digital Mammography

Mammography is a particularly popular technique for finding cancer, but many other methods have been developed due to its serious drawbacks, especially in younger women. When compared to film mammography, the digital mammography (DM) process is essentially carried out in the same way as a standard mammogram, producing images of higher quality faster. 

In contrast to film-based mammography, digital mammography (DM) employs computer-based electronic conductors to display an image of the interior of the breast for the clearest, most accurate images, which help in the accurate diagnosis. The accession, processing, and display of images are all handled separately. 

With less noise during image access, it provides a wider range of resolutions and densities in dense breasts. Processing breast images doesn't call for additional images, exposing patients to pointless radiation, or uncomfortable tests. DM offers a better contrast image with obvious differences from other tissues. Dense breast tissues appear white on film mammograms. It is quick and simple to transmit images from one doctor to another. Compared to film mammography, digital mammography produces images of higher quality faster.

2. Breast MRI

breast cancer screening

Organs, tissues, bones, and other internal body structures can be seen using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a non-invasive imaging technique. It creates internal images of the body using radio waves and powerful magnetic fields. MRI machines create cross-sectional, 3D images of the body without the use of radiation, in contrast to X-ray and CT scans. MRI is frequently used by medical professionals to view body parts that are difficult to see with other imaging methods like x-rays, ultrasounds, or computed tomography (CT) scans. Heart and vascular disease, stroke, muscle and skeletal (bone) disorders, cancer, and many other diseases can all be diagnosed with an MRI.

3. Tomosynthesis

Tomosynthesis has emerged as a useful advancement for the evaluation of breast cancer with more sensitivity and specificity than traditional mammography technique, which helps to solve the issue of digital mammography that occasionally gives superimposable tumour structures or may obscurely lesions in the breast with dense tissues during diagnosis. Grant et al. coined the term "tomosynthesis" in the beginning. Tomosynthesis makes use of panel detectors, tungsten or rhodium anodes, filters, and various multi-slit scanning systems. According to the parallax method, which is the basis for this, structures that are closer to the detector will move between images over shorter distances than those that are farther away. 

Also read: Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Importance Of Regular Screening & Signs To Look Out For

Additionally, tomosynthesis makes it easier to distinguish between benign and malignant tumours. Tomosynthesis detects calcified tissues similar to tumour tissues with clarity up to 92% but because of this, it also does so, which is one of the reasons for its limited use. It removes noise and separates planes of images through the breast for quality images.

4. CAD mammography

In order to detect structural changes, masses, and other factors that aid in an early diagnosis of breast cancer, computer-aided detection (CAD) uses computer technology in conjunction with mammography or MRI techniques. It serves as a link between traditional methods and modern technology. It works well for both analogue and digital mammography. CAD makes it easier to find small pockets of calcified tissue than large tumour masses. Its primary flaw is an overemphasised sensitivity to changes in breast tissues that leads to pointless biopsies. This technology is still being improved. But in recent years, this has yielded sizable benefits, and in the future, it might be thought of as a technique of great value.

5. Radionuclide Methods

Greater specificity and contrast between tumour and healthy breast cancer tissue are provided by radionuclide methods. Additionally, it improves treatment responses and the evaluation of cancer's stage. Positron emission tomography (PET), scintimammography, positron emission mammography (PEM), and breast specific gamma imaging are methods that use these techniques (BSGI). Scintimammography has previously been performed using cationic MIBI radiopharmaceutical agents and gamma cameras.

6. Mammary Ductoscopy

Mammary ductoscopy is a procedure that enables the introduction of a tiny endoscope into the milk ducts of the breast, allowing for the inspection of the ductal epithelial lining and the recovery of cells for lavage and biopsy. Using a nipple hole cannula and investigation, mammary ductoscopy is a developing technique that allows a direct viewable approach to the ductal arrangement of the breast. Early studies on MD focused on evaluating women who had pathologic spontaneous nipple discharge (PND), but more recent studies have also used MD to test for breast cancer in women who did not have PND. It has the advantages of precise pathophysiological localisation and intraoperative guidance, especially for deep sores inside the ductal framework. The viability studies' mammary pipe framework was successfully cannulated.

Also read: Expert Talk: Diagnosis And Cure Of Breast Cancer

7. HER2 testing

Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is an oncogene that shares a great deal of homology with human epidermal growth factor receptors 1/HER3, HER3, and HER4, which promote growth, movement, and attack in the breast cancer disease. About 15% to 20% of breast cancers have intensified HER2, and this intensification is strongly linked to the overexpression of the HER2 protein. Clinically, tumours with normal levels of HER2 are referred to as "HER2-ordinary" or "HER2-negative" (lacking HER2 overexpression/intensification), whereas tumours with quality enhancement/overexpression are referred to as "HER2-positive."

8. Magnetic Resonance elastography

Is another name for MRE, a cutting-edge non-invasive method for determining the spatial stiffness of soft tissues. MRE and MRI can be combined to provide a quick, accurate, and thorough imaging evaluation of a single patient arrangement.

9. Optical imaging

It uses near-infrared (NIR) light to evaluate the optical characteristics of tissues and has a much wider application in the detection of breast cancer. A deeper penetration enables the use of optical imaging as an imaging technology for the detection, diagnosis, and/or prognosis of breast cancer. NIR is less expensive and requires less time for imaging than MRI.