Biomedical Engineering Blog

Biomedical Engineering

The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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Breast Cancer: Looking from the Outside In

Posted July 18, 2007 6:00 AM by shanlax

"One woman in eight who lives to age 85 will develop breast cancer during her lifetime". So reads another grim medical statistic. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 40 and 55, but what are biomedical engineers doing to save lives? For starters, they've made it easier for doctors to detect cancer cells at an earlier stage, allowing for more aggressive treatment. Today, companies such as Siemens and GE Healthcare have improved imaging technology so much that doctors can capture images that they once thought were unattainable.

MRI, Digital Mammography and Ultrasound

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), digital mammographies, and breast ultrasound are three technologies that have helped oncologists detect breast cancer sooner and with a greater degree of accuracy. Digital mammography alone can detect up to 28% more cancer than older methods. Digital mammography also enables doctors to take a closer look at medical images. Medical equipment such as Siemens' MAMMOMAT® NovationDR also provides biopsy and diagnostics capabilities. Now, oncologists can better diagnose different types of lesions, tumors, and pre-cancerous conditions.

Benign or Malignant?

Good or bad? Benign or malignant? That's the question on everyone's mind when it comes to a tumor. In the past, it was harder to get an answer. Today, medical devices such as Siemens' Biograph™ PET∙CT help doctors get the facts. The PET indicates the type of tumor that a patient has. The CT scan identifies the location of the tumor with great accuracy. The Siemens Biograph PET CT also helps doctors determine the axillary nodal involvement with the cancer cells. In this way, oncologists can better diagnose the stage of the cancer and determine an appropriate course of treatment.

Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies in medical imaging include a prototype breast tomosynthesis system and new PET∙CT technologies such as TrueV. With the TrueV, doctors can get clearer, more in-depth information about the human body. The breast tomosynthesis will help medical professionals discover previously-undetectable subtle mass lesions. As more medical breakthroughs become available, look for updates right here on CR4.

Resources and Other Information

Check out these resources for more information about breast cancer, medical imaging, and diagnostic methods.

Women's Health Virtual Image (Book)

A good source of knowledge on the different devices being used to help breast cancer along with facts on breast cancer

GE Healthcare - Women's Healthcare – Mammography

Overview of mammographic imaging, etc.

Scienceblog.com

Highlights of some universities' research on breast cancer and imaging.

http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/2003/E/20032388.html

Articles on Biomedical Imaging at RPI

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#1

Re: Breast Cancer: Looking from the Outside In

07/18/2007 7:55 AM

Thanks for the post, Shanlax.

I came across this CNN story at the gym yesterday. I thought that you might be interested in it...

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/conditions/07/17/diet.breast.cancer.ap/

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#2

Re: Breast Cancer: Looking from the Outside In

07/18/2007 11:07 AM

"One woman in eight who lives to age 85 will develop breast cancer during her lifetime". Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 40 and 55.

Seems to me that 85 is a good innings but how many women die of cancer between 40 and 55........one in five....?

How many women live to the age of 85?

Is the cancer rate increasing or decreasing?

Engineers supply the equipment for the medical profession to work their magic they are the one's who claim to be the healers. Engineers, to my knowledge never layed any claim to having the answer to cancer maybe we should take a lesson from the Borg and simply go biomechanical, but what about civil engineers and aero engineers?

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#3
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Re: Breast Cancer: Looking from the Outside In

07/19/2007 3:05 AM

The amazing thing is that so many people don't get cancer.

Our body is such a complex system of cells reproducing /repairing/growing, it's a wonder it doesn't go 'off message' much sooner....!

A complete 'cure' is like trying to cure the laws of probability.

(Please don't interpret this comment as in anyway anti-research or trying to belittle the pain anguish that cancer causes...we've all lost people close to us.

It is merely an observation on how well our bodies do cope)

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#5
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Re: Breast Cancer: Looking from the Outside In

07/23/2007 3:44 AM

Hi 'Del the cat',

I totally agree with you regarding the complexity of the human body.

I read an article not that long ago which claimed that the 'dud' copies made of our DNA (the likely cancer forming ones) increase with age. At present other ailments/problems 'take us out' before cancer does - but if we keep on increasing our lifespan then there could come a time when, if we live long enough, everybody would die from cancer.

Sobering thought, hey?

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#4

Re: Breast Cancer: Looking from the Outside In

07/19/2007 5:13 AM

You have put together some useful resource links on this subject shanlax. A recent article I read gave some insight into situations/reasons whereby women decide upon elective mastectomy. I accompanied somebody visiting an oncology department and was impressed by the way in which staff did such an excellent job of helping those attending at various stages of evaluation and treatment. The information you present here will certainly help those interested in the many types of scan and terminology. Providing clear factual information is an essential part of any healthcare issue.

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Re: Breast Cancer: Looking from the Outside In

01/23/2008 11:44 AM

It is hard to believe, but the present day's standard mammography (squeeze and Xray) just recently got studied for efficacy and reported on I believe in JAMA (journal of American Medical Association). The report reveals very high false negative and false positive results. No surprise, as X rays are not exactly the right tool to distinguish a harmless calcium deposit from something nasty and hyperactive. But, if you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

There are two new methods that looks exactly for extraordinary activity, leaving alone the inert ones.

The first one is already available. You may have to pay for the session yourself, as it will be some time before insurances accept it routinely. The technology on which it is based is fascinating. The silicon imaging chip in your off-the-shelf digital camera is more sensitive to infrared, than to normal light. So a filter and the lens cuts off infrared. It needs filtering to separate the different colors anyhow. Reverse the arrangement: filter out light, use off-the-shelf infrared lens, and presto you have an excellent camera taking infrared pictures. Linear down to 0.1 degrees, resolves 0.01 degrees (linearity not guaranteed). Excellent screening tool, no radiation involved. Records unusual metabolic activity much smaller than a millimeter down to some depth. Since the camera is standard except filtering and lens, you can get a CD record to be taken to the followup, that they can focus on the active site (if any) only. By the way, dont wear underwire bra before, as the indentations mess up the picture. If you guys think this note is just for your loved ones, think again. Guys get into the same trouble, just few % that of the ladies.

The second one is in active research, prototype and some clinical study stage. It is an UWB (ultrawideband) radar application distinguishing tissues based on biological activity. It is used similar to ultrasound. It is run under dr. Susan Hagness at the University Wisconsin - Madison. Since the papers I read were written in 1999 and 2003 a lot of development I may have missed.

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