The mammography of the future is here in present day

My relentless crusade to help women young and old discover breast cancers early began on 23 June 2007, my daughter Julie’s 50th birthday, when an MRI revealed a large breast cancer, which had gone undetected by years of negative mammograms and inadequate clinical breast examinations.

Dr. Ian Grant-Whyte

Dr. Ian Grant-Whyte

Crucially, ultrasound was never ordered.

According to Harvard Radiology Professor, Daniel Kopans, a world authority on breast cancer imaging: “Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), now called 3D mammography, is available in the United States.”

It is a better program and it detects some cancers that are not visible on D 2 mammography. However, there are still cases where an ultrasound can detect cancers not evident on DBT alone. The combination of DBT and 3D automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) will find many more cancers at an early, curable stage than in D 2 mammography.

Dr Kopans, who invented DBT, believes that a DBT-ABUS combination machine will enable detection of up to 95 percent of early breast cancers.

I recently introduced Dr. Kit Vaughan, PhD, to Prof. Daniel Kopans in the hope that they will collaborate and be able to combine DBT and ABUS in a single unit. Dr Vaughan’s company has recently developed a successful clinical system that combines 2D mammography with ABUS (www.caperay.com).

The development of a successful DBT-ABUS system will be a daunting, time-consuming, and expensive task.

The new DBT-ABUS system would make it technically much easier for the radiologist to read images and reduce possible diagnostic errors. It would also enable the detection of more cancers at an earlier, curable stage, particularly in women with dense breast tissue. With just one visit there would be far less anxiety while waiting for results. This would be less expensive than two consecutive visits.

Dr. Vaughan has estimated that it would require $250,000 to build a clinic-ready system combining DBT and ABUS, to be sent to the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for Dr. Kopans to evaluate in his breast imaging clinic.

I appeal to the thousands of men and women who have lost loved ones to breast cancer to help finance this machine which has the potential to save countless women’s lives, including the 40 percent of women with dense breast tissue, who are not only at increased risk of developing breast cancer, but whose cancer may be missed by 2D mammography.

A priceless investment in women’s lives!

Ladies and Gentlemen of Paradise Valley, mammography has been the cornerstone in our ability to find breast cancers smaller than 1 centimeter in diameter. Here we have the makings of an incredible new machine, a machine that can potentially discover up to 95 percent of all breast cancers, and nobody seems interested in getting it up and running?

This invaluable DBT-ABUS machine could be sent far and wide to places such as Sierra Leone where breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women. Most women don’t seek treatment until the disease has progressed to stage 3 or stage 4.

Due to the scarcity of equipment and trained radiologists, breast cancer screening is very expensive in many parts of Africa. It’s hard to believe, but in Sierra Leone, there is only one mammography machine.

Considering most households in Sierra Leone earn less than $375 a year, mammograms are simply unaffordable for most people, and getting a mammogram can be the difference between life and death.

Editor’s note: to contact Mr. Grant-Whyte, e-mail him at gwmdcantab@gmail.com

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