Professor Nehmat Houssami, a researcher funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), is leading the charge to introduce next-generation mammographic screening technology into Australia, and has initiated a trial run of the technique for women in Victoria.
In conjunction with BreastScreen Victoria, the trial will gather evidence on the ability of the new technology, called 3D mammography or tomosynthesis, to more accurately detect breast cancer.
While 2D mammography captures a single x-ray image of the breast, 3D mammography captures multiple images to create a richer visual reconstruction of the make-up of healthy and cancerous breast tissue.
Overseas trials have indicated that 3D mammography is an improvement on the standard 2D mammography, however, Australian data is needed before the technology can be adopted for national population screening here.
“We know that research into better screening and detection of breast cancer helps Australians receive the right treatment as early as possible, so Professor Houssami’s trial has the potential to make a big impact on survival rates,” says NBCF’s Director of Research Investment, Dr Alessandra Muntoni.
The trial is one of over 30 breast cancer research projects funded by NBCF in 2017 with a total investment of more than $12 million.
Professor Houssami was also awarded NBCF’s inaugural Breast Cancer Leadership Fellowship last year, a five year grant that provides the scope for senior researchers to look at some of the big questions in breast cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
She is passionate about the need to gather evidence on the benefits of 3D mammography to determine if it can improve detection rates and survival outcomes for Australian women.
The national BreastScreen program, which provides free mammograms to women over the age of 40, has been proven to save lives through early detection. This new technology, with its more advanced imaging, has the potential to save even more lives.
The BreastScreen Victoria Tomosynthesis in Screening Trial will commence in the second half of 2017. Further information can be found at breastscreen.org.au/tomotrial