What one researcher is doing to improve breast cancer detection

July 11th, 2017
Professor Martin Ebert
Professor Martin Ebert has been funded by NBCF to investigate a whole new way of breast cancer screening.

Professor Martin Ebert from the Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital and University of Western Australia has been funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation to investigate an innovative new way to detect breast cancer – his project has the potential to help younger women get a clearer diagnosis and detect breast cancer earlier when treatments are most likely to be effective.

“Research is the pathway to making treatment better.”

How did you get into research?

I initially thought I was going to have a career as a medical doctor. But a last minute change of plans saw me studying physics and mathematics at university. I always maintained an interest in medicine though and the two fields came together when I studied medical physics for my PhD. That experience was so rewarding that I decided that a career in research in the area was the only option for me.

What does your research aim to accomplish?

Too many women are facing a tough life dealing with breast cancer. In most cases, earlier detection would give them a big advantage when treatments are more effective.

While mammograms save lives and are the current practice for early detection of breast cancer, we know that a small amount of radiation is used at each mammogram and that women find it an uncomfortable process. Mammograms also don’t have the sensitivity to detect cancers in denser breast tissue – this is an issue for younger women who are more likely to have dense breast tissue.

This research is aimed at generating a no-harm no-touch method that women would not find threatening and that could successfully detect cancers in denser breast tissue.

Why is this area of research so important – what impact will it have on women’s lives?

On a personal level, this research is important as I have daughters and I want them to live healthy lives without the burden of extensive and harsh treatments.

On a broader level, I am hoping this research will provide a way for breast cancers to be detected in women quickly, painlessly and conveniently so that they can get early treatment and they can get back to the joys of life as soon as possible.

Do you have a message for women diagnosed with breast cancer about how research can help?

The ever-improving treatments we have now have come about through research. This is a fast-paced field and thousands of avenues are being researched and tested at any one time by people who have given up more lucrative careers to dedicate their lives to their research work.

In future, I believe these women will be able to expect better diagnostic tools and more effective treatments to come from work already being done.