Researchers Enlist Women to Learn How Breast Cancer is First Detected
Gainesville, Florida, 15 October 2014: Mary Ann Mehn, Ph.D., MammaCare Foundation researcher, believes the experiences results and recommendations of ordinary women can improve the effectiveness and cost of breast cancer screening programs.
A body of evidence now confirms that breast cancer is likely to be discovered by women themselves or by the hands of their clinical examiner. It was also found that a large proportion of breast cancers are discovered by women within months of a normal mammogram. “These are disruptive findings, they challenge conventional thinking and could lead to better screening practices,” said Mark Goldstein, Ph.D, MammaCare co-founder and senior scientist, adding that “training the hands of women and their clinicians appears to be an effective and affordable front line strategy to improve the odds for early breast cancer detection.” H.S. Pennypacker, Ph.D. who led the National Cancer Institute sponsored research team that developed empirical standards for breast exams, pointed to the recently published study of 89,000 Canadian women in which trained hands detected the same number of breast cancers as did mammography. Lead author of the study, Dr. Anthony B. Miller, was quoted in the Journal Women’s Health: “There is good evidence … from within the Canadian National Breast Screening Study that women who practice breast self-examination have a reduced risk of dying from breast cancer.”
These compelling findings will now be more widely explored in a public participatory project for American and European women inviting them to share their experiences and recommendations. Dr. Mehn explained, “MammaCare is launching an internet-based, crowd-sourced program that will allow women to report and advise on how to improve current screening practices. It will tap the leading authorities on the subject, women themselves.” “Big questions can now be answered using big data although personal reports do not satisfy the strict requirements of science, they can provide a vast amount of valuable information not obtainable by other means,” Goldstein explained. The online survey will go live in October and will be available via US and European websites. It will continue to gather data for at least a year and the results will be published.
Siemens, a leading supplier of mammography equipment conducted a survey on the influences and attitudes that affect breast cancer screening. Another survey of 1000 women was conducted by a Singapore based research team reporting on economic status, education and screening decisions. Researchers at East Tennessee State University asked women to report their level of pain or discomfort from mammograms as well as their attitude toward screening. Dr. Mehn concluded, “Screening programs can improve only when women’s actual experience and results are given the credibility they deserve.” She predicted the “report” from women will improve the effectiveness, practices and affordability of breast cancer screening programs.
Mark Kane Goldstein, Ph.D.
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