New Breast Cancer Detection Technology

Each year, more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. Mammograms are still the standard test for detecting breast cancer, but the test misses about 10 percent of cancers and is especially ineffective in young women. Now, a new test may help those who don't benefit from a mammogram.

Like many people, Janet Gemmiti has been touched by breast cancer. "My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and I have a couple of close girlfriends that also are breast cancer survivors," she said. Because of that, Gemmiti is diligent when it comes to her own health. "I have two other sisters, and so we do go for our mammograms on a regular basis."

Now, Gemmiti is doing her part to help with future methods to find breast cancer. She's taking part in a study of a new device that sends electricity through the breast and measures the speed it travels. While doctors can't explain why, they know breasts with cancer conduct electricity differently.

Electrical Breast Test“It doesn’t try to give us a picture of the breast, so much as it tells us if the conduction of electricity is different between the two breasts,” Scott H. Kurtzman, M.D., a surgical oncologist at University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, tells Ivanhoe.

Dr. Kurtzman is one of the researchers involved in the ongoing study. They hope to confirm the results of an early study in 400 women. "It showed one important thing," Dr. Kurtzman says. "That is, if this test said there was no cancer, there was only one person who actually had a cancer that this missed."

Electrical Breast TestGemmiti says the test was simple. “I didn’t feel any electrical charge or really any sensation at all,” she says. And in the future, that simple test could be all it takes to reduce the number of people whose lives are affected by breast cancer.

For now, experts recommend women aged 40 and over get a mammogram every year. Dr. Kurtzman points out that the new test could also be used as a screening tool for women in rural areas who don't have access to mammograms.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Jane Shaskan
Office of Communications
University of Connecticut Health Center