According to GLOBOCAN 2012, there were 14.1 million new cancer cases, 8.2 million cancer deaths and a staggering 32.6 million people living with cancer (within five years of diagnosis) worldwide in 2012. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that currently, about one-third of the world’s cancer burden can be decreased if cancer cases are detected earlier and treatment is provided immediately.
Breast cancer in particular is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women with nearly 1.7 million new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2012. . According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), more than 200,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer annually.
Early detection and new treatments have improved survival rates for breast cancer patients, helping the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with cancer to reach nearly 80%. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989; these decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment. Sales of breast cancer diagnostic and drug technologies reached about $22.3 billion globally in 2014 and are expected to reach $27 billion in 2019, equating to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% (2014–2019).
According to El Camino Hospital’s Radiologist Dr. Sila Yitta, routine mammograms and self-screening are the best defense, although many women don't always take advantage. "In my experience it is hit or miss; some women are consistent in doing breast exams at home, some women don't do them at all," Yitta said.
New experimental technology could help thousands of women and doctors screen for breast cancer in a new way, revolutionizing the screening process. A device called iTBraCyrcadia Health is about to begin its clinical trials in the Bay Area, California, USA. Rather than a mammogram or ultrasound, this system can be used at home, with potentially life-saving information transmitted through a smartphone.
The clinical trial being conducted at El Camino Hospital will study the results on women wearing the device for different lengths of time. The goal is to produce accurate readings in roughly two hours, ultimately making the system more convenient for women to use. If the trial is successful, Cyrcadia Health hopes to have the iTBra on the market later this year.
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Cyrcadia Health CEO Rob Royea says, "It's a wearable device with a number of sensors that check what happens with your circadian patterns of heat change on your breast over time." The results are then processed using sophisticated algorithms and transmitted to a smartphone. "You wear the device for a few hours, and that information is automatically communicated to your physician," Royea added.
Because the system is heat based, developers believe it may also offer advantages for some women with denser breast tissue, which can be more difficult to image using traditional mammography.
In addition to R&D efforts in early detection, improved cancer treatment is making a difference as well, resulting in fewer mastectomies. "The therapeutic approaches to breast cancer have changed radically since the 1990s," say Stefano Zurrida, MD, and Umberto Veronesi, MD, from the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, "and the pace of change shows no signs of slacking."
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