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How Technology Helps to Detect Breast Cancer At Early Stages

written by: MandaSpring • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 11/10/2009

Breast cancer is a very scary thing for any woman to go through but now there is an easier way to detect breast cancer using computers.

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    Stages of Breast Cancer

    Any kind of cancer is a nightmare. It usually sneaks up on unsuspecting people and then when they learn the awful truth it can often times be too late to treat effectively. Prevention and detection are vitally important to surviving cancer. Technology now has a way to make breast cancer detection a little easier. Here are the 7 stages of breast cancer.

    STAGE I – A small lump/tumor confined to the breast.

    STAGE II – Tumor has grown in size and may or may not have spread into the lymph nodes under the arm.

    STAGE III – Advanced cancer, this is broken down into more defining stages

    STAGE IIIA – Breast cancer has spread into nodes under the arm or behind the breast bone and are then attached to other areas or structures.

    STAGE IIIB – Breast cancer has spread into under arms or behind breast bone and has grown into the chest wall or skin of the breast.

    STAGE IIIC – Breast Cancer has spread to above mentioned regions and has now moved to or above the collar bone.

    STAGE IV – Breast cancer has spread throughout the body.

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    Technology Gives Hope

    We all know about mammograms. These tests screen women and pick up on masses that are present. But, they are not prefect. They can often miss several more tumors or smaller cancer lumps. Although the technology is great in detecting breast cancer, as opposed to or in league with the self exams, researchers are always trying to find a more effective way to detect.

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    How Can Computers Help?

    Computer Aided Detection, or CAD, brings a little more detection power to the table. As an added precaution British specialists go over the results twice. Two readers serve better and more effective in the detection process. Just in case one misses spots that are cancerous the other can usually pick it out and check on their concern. In the U.S. it is usually customary for only one person to read the scans… CAD can help reduce or eliminate error in breast cancer detection.

    "What we demonstrated was that one reader using CAD could pick up as many cancers as the two readers could," said radiologist Fiona J. Gilbert of the University of Aberdeen, author of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine recently.

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    Resources from the National Cancer Institute

    The National Cancer Institute offers a way for women to learn more through an interactive tool:

    “NCI’s Cancer Risk: Understanding the Puzzle Web site is an interactive site with information to help women make informed decisions about lowering their risk of cancer. It includes a section on breast cancer where women can find out the basics about breast cancer risk, determine which risk factors apply to them, and identify ways to reduce their risk. It includes questions women can ask their doctors about their risk for breast cancer. The site also includes links to NCI’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool and tips on how to analyze stories in the news about cancer. You can visit the site at http://understandingrisk.cancer.gov on the Internet.