This story is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s ongoing commitment to identifying solutions to Utah’s greatest challenges through the work of the Innovation Lab.
Mammograms aren’t going away anytime soon – they’re still important in detecting and treating breast cancer early, experts say.
But researchers in Utah are working on new ways to screen for breast cancer, as easy as checking your vitality.
Science Ioniq, based in Salt Lake City, in partnership with a University of Utah assistant professor from the College of Engineering to create a device that sends an electric current – so small that it can’t be felt – through the patient’s body to detect changes in fluids that could indicate a person has cancer.
“We want to have an impact,” said Benjamin Sanchez-Terrones, an Ioniq consultant and U.S. researcher. “We want to change the status quo of how these patients are diagnosed.”
At Intermountain Healthcare, the doctor is expanding a study consider whether breast cancer can be found through a blood test.
These new screenings, which can be used in conjunction with mammograms, are not yet in use in Utahn physician offices. But their creators hope they can help in the Beehive State, which often has one of the places with the lowest breast cancer screening rate in the country.
Over a 30-year period, the percentage of Utah women age 40 and older who reported getting a mammogram within the past two years increased from 51.6% in 1989 to 64% in 2019. according to the Utah Department of Health.
But Utah is “still far below the national average,” according to the department’s report, with a breast cancer screening rate of 63.1% in 2018, compared with 70.9 percent nationally.
Still, Utah’s statistics are still better than other states in the early stages of COVID-19 transmission, said Joelle Fierro, the Utah Cancer Control Program’s media and communications coordinator. Even though “decline“In breast cancer screenings across the country, Utah” stayed the same,’ she said, at 62.69% in 2020.
Why is Utah lagging behind?
One of the most common misconceptions that Fierro and Dr. Brett Parkinson, medical director of Intermountain Healthcare’s Breast Care Center say they hear that people without a family history of breast cancer think that people without a family history of breast cancer that they are not at risk. In reality, however, most breast cancer cases occur in people with no history of that disease, they say.
Utah is also generally considered one of the healthiest states, Fierro said, “and so, a lot of times, women underestimate their breast cancer risk.”
Nationally, guidelines for when women should start mammograms are not standardized, which can be confusing. “Some places say 50, and some say 45, some say 40,” said Fierro.
In Utah, it is recommended that all women age 40 and older be screened. If you’re younger and have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor, Fierro says, because you may need to start earlier.
Another reason women give for not getting mammograms, Fierro says, is that they think they can’t afford it. She said the Ministry of Health provides free mammograms and cervical cancer screening. To qualify, you must have a moderate income and be uninsured or uninsured (if you have a high deductible, etc.). Learn more at CancerUtah.org or by calling 1-800-717-1811.
But above all, Fierro often hears an admission that simply avoiding movie screenings “always annoys” her, she says: “They don’t want to know.”
Fierro emphasizes that the harder breast cancer is to treat, the harder it is to treat if the patient has to wait longer. In Utah, 32.7% of cases are diagnosed at a later stage, compared with 29.8% nationally, according to data from the Utah Department of Health.
“The best defense against cancer is to find it,” says Sanchez-Terrones from the U., “where there are more treatment options that are probably not invasive.”
The Covid-19 vaccine could affect your mammograms
Brett Parkinson, medical director of Intermountain Healthcare’s Breast Care Center, says women should wait about a month for a mammogram after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, whether it’s the first shot, the second shot. two or more booster shots.
According to Parkinson’s, the vaccine can enlarge the lymph nodes in the armpit or armpit. That may show up in mammograms, and doctors may need to perform a biopsy, or patients may need a mammogram or a follow-up ultrasound. “Small delays avoid having to do it unnecessarily,” he said.
“However, if a patient has a tumor, we don’t want her to delay the diagnosis,” Parkinson said. “So we’re going to tell those patients to come in anyway.”
Advances in cancer screening
In the future, Sanchez-Torres and Ioniq Sciences envision a simpler way to screen for breast cancer: A nurse’s car with a monitor, several electrodes, and a probe. The patient holds a wire in his hand, which emits a small electric current. The patient feels a slight pressure from the tip of the probe, about the size of a pencil eraser, onto several points on the body. And the doctors soon had their resolve.
In a recent study, this Ioniq device was used in 48 women, half of whom had breast cancer and half with noncancerous breast lesions. Researchers can detect certain immune responses and pinpoint when they have cancer in 70% of those patients and 75% without cancer.
Sanchez-Terrones said the device is still about a year away from securing Federal Drug Administration approval, and it won’t be able to replace mammograms.
A mammogram takes a picture of a patient’s breast tissue. The Ioniq device measures a substance called interstitial fluid, the fluid between cells that helps nourish them. When cancer is in the body, that fluid has different properties because of the immune response the device can detect, says Sanchez-Terrones.
Ioniq CEO Michael Garff said: “It is a major breakthrough for cancer.
The technology can also be used to monitor patients while they are undergoing treatment.
Currently, breast cancer patients are not allowed to have another mammogram for six months to a year after treatment. The Ioniq device, which emits no radiation, can be used without harm during the procedure, helping doctors determine if they should change their course.
It does not mean that a magic wand can locate cancer. It’s like a first line of defense, says Sanchez Terrones — ideally more accessible and affordable than mammograms or MRIs, and widely available in clinics, not just specialist offices. subject.
Ioniq has already tested the device with electrical currents for other cancers, such as lung cancer, with its ProLung model.
Blood cancer detection
Dr Sachin Apte, clinical director at the Huntsman Cancer Institute of the United States, said advancing cancer detection research is crucial.
In 2017, Intermountain Healthcare published a three-year study looked at whether breast cancer could be detected earlier through a blood test.
Parkinson says the idea is that if cancer develops in a person, “it will release dying blood cells into the peripheral blood stream. And those cells contain tumor DNA, which is different from normal DNA.”
“If we can detect that tumor DNA is circulating in the bloodstream before the tumor can be palpated, or maybe even before it’s seen on mammograms… we can,” says Parkinson. We can improve the early detection of breast cancer, or even a cancer recurrence.
The researchers studied blood samples from more than 600 patients, Parkinson told The Salt Lake Tribune earlier this month. Among them, 400 were in the control group and 200 were patients with known cancer.
“The early signs are very promising,” says Parkinson. “It seems that patients with cancer are emitting a signal. …And many patients without breast cancer do not emit a signal.”
To learn more, Parkinson said it plans to add hundreds more patients to the study early next year.
“This is experimental,” says Parkinson, but if it works, it will also be “an amazing breakthrough.”
Becky Jacobs is a Report to the US corps member and wrote about the state of women in Utah for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant will help her continue writing stories like this; Please consider creating a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2021/12/19/new-technology-could-help/ Utah’s low mammogram rate may be helped by new technology