According to the Society for Women's Health Research, Over 20,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year in the United States and women have a 92% chance of surviving for five years post-diagnosis. However, more than three-fourths of women are not diagnosed until later stages."  Abnormal ovaries are often benign simple cysts, however the complex cysts are classifiable with the new ultrasound scoring system as to how suspicious they may be. The same way we detect prostate tumors by routine yearly ultrasound screening in high risk patients, we could save many lives because sometimes the first sign of ovarian cancer is a gland in the neck that pops up, a mass under the arm or jaundice because the liver is filled with metastatic tumor.
In 1980, I gave a talk for the American College of Obstetricians at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where we presented the use of real-time imaging for the instantaneous documentation of the fetal heart beat by intrauterine cardiac sonogram to detect fetal demise instead of waiting 2 weeks to see if the fetus was growing. We asserted a similar use of ultrasound technology to monitor abnormal ovarian cysts as small as two centimeters (2-3 cm is about the size of a normal ovary). Early cancers could not be felt, but are imaged with ultrasound as the technology advanced. With today's high resolution and 3D imaging, (including endo probes with elastography for the uterus and ovaries) recent upgrades offer even better capabilities to conduct regular screening in real time called a noninvasive “virtual biopsy”.
In the 1990's, advancements in imaging allowed us to accurately detect prostate cancer, uterine cancer, and particularly see abnormal ovarian tumors. In addition, there is now an entire classification of ovarian cysts promoted by all the ultrasound and gynecologic societies to discern the fact that not all cysts are suspicious while some will be cancerous. Most of the ovarian cancers have cystic components. In my history as a practitioner, the first possible indicator of ovarian cancer was the swollen belly. Oftentimes, patients would come in after a CT for abdominal distension might show a fluid-filled abdomen, malignant ascitic fluid- and then when they drained the fluid, you might find an ovarian cancer tumor that metastasized to the lymph nodes, the mesentery membrane (the wall around the stomach area) or the liver.
Today's 3D imaging not only finds tumors that could be cancerous as small as 3cm, but we are also able to detect and look at suspicious lesions. While 3cm is considered sizable in the ultrasound field, it's not big in the gynecologic field because that's about the size of an average tumor. Ultrasound technology is now able to see three millimeter cancers in the glands, which we have been doing for the past 10 years
Instead of conducting biopsies on abnormal glands, we now employ the sonogram in areas like the axillary lymph nodes. If there is an abnormal gland with a tumor under ultrasound guidance we insert a tiny biopsy needle and aspirate cells for cytology, which are contemporaneously analyzed microscopically providing timely diagnosis and reduced patient anxiety from waiting and often avoids the risks of a full dissection of the axillary or groin lymph node.
With our current 3D screening solutions, we now have a way to find cancers before they metastasized throughout the body. And we have the technology that can be used to study a cyst instead of doing a exploratory laparotomy to take out a suspicious ovary.
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"ARE YOU DENSE?" MAKES SENSE IN DRIVING AWARENESS WEEK
Joseph Cappello, founder of the "Are You Dense?" Foundation honors cancer researcher & clinical diagnostic specialist Dr. Robert Bard (NYC) with the first Cancer Research & Innovations Award. This award recognizes clinical leadership in the advancement of early detection protocols and the improved screening of dense breast cases.
"Decades since the advent of breast scanning technology, a growing list of real-time innovations in non-invasive diagnostic imaging provide new options in the field of early detection", states Dr. Bard. "These technologies directly align with breast density screening that can easily complement a woman's regular mammogram. By updating the imaging process, we can safely combine diagnostic modalities and improve the assessment of disease and guide therapeutic procedures."
"Dr. Bard will go down in medical history as one of the earliest change-makers in our crusade to improve women's early detection programs. His innovative approach to combine technologies makes him a true visionary for the next generation of cancer professionals... by standing his ground about the crisis and aiding in (what is now) a national legislation to save more lives!", states Mr. Cappello.
THE LEGACY OF DR. NANCY CAPPELLO
Are You Dense, Inc. pursues the national mission to educate the public about the risks and screening challenges of dense breast tissue and its impact on missed, delayed and advanced stage breast cancer to reduce advanced disease and mortality.
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