New guidelines recommend more frequent breast cancer screening but false positives persist

Aug. 15, 2019
Each year, about 245,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and about 41,000 will die from the disease.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons recently announced new cancer screening guidelines that are designed to help diagnose and assess high-risk patients earlier. However, false positive results continue to occur and have a severe emotional and financial impact on those misdiagnosed, suggested NuView Life Sciences in a recent news announcement.  

“The continued high rate of false positive cancer screening results for women is an exceedingly dangerous trend which the industry needs to address,” said Paul Crowe, CEO of NuView Life Sciences in the statement. “The trend is, in part, due to outdated technology. Mammograms often pick up cysts,
calcifications and infections which then lead to faulty diagnoses. A screening mammogram followed by a companion diagnostic NV-VPAC1 -PETscan, can allow doctors to quickly determine if the patient has cancer and prevent unnecessary future screenings and mammograms”

Breast cancer is “the most common cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of those tested, nearly 60 percent of women will receive a false-positive cancer screening result, which may affect their willingness to continue being screened. In some cases, those women become more diligent with future screenings, but others become more reluctant to be screened again.

“Investigations in my laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University, into imaging breast cancer, by targeting VPAC receptors, strongly promise to reduce a number of unnecessary biopsies, minimize patient anxiety and reduce health
care cost,” said Dr. Mathew L. Thakur, Director of Laboratories of Radiopharmaceutical Research and Molecular Imaging.

In addition to the screenings, according to a recent study from The Pennsylvania State University, women who received a false-positive diagnosis are more likely to initiate medication for anxiety or depression compared to those who initially received negative results.

Crowe explained that the medical industry has an obligation to ensure it is focusing on correctly diagnosing and treating the estimated 13 percent of women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. By introducing a breakthrough confirmatory test to the healthcare industry, costly testing can be avoided completely for the benefit of patients, doctors and insurers.

Aside from the emotional toll it takes on individuals, the annual cost for unnecessary tests is enormous. According to NuView Life Sciences, of the 40 million mammograms conducted annually in the United States, approximately 1.7 million result in biopsies of suspicious lesions. Of those 1.7 million biopsies, approximately 1.3 million — or 80 percent — result in a benign diagnosis. The estimated cost of those negative biopsies is nearly $4 billion.

NuView Life Sciences has developed technology — the NV-VPAC1 — which has the potential to significantly reduce the number of negative breast biopsies. The company estimates that anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of women may have the option to undergo a NV-VPAC1-PETscan instead of a breast biopsy. Not only will this decrease the need for unnecessary biopsies, but it will also improve the immediacy of a breast cancer confirmation and reduce the false positive rate.

“We have an opportunity to reduce not only the emotional stress caused by false positive results in breast cancer screenings, but also the financial strain on the entire system,” said Crowe. “If technology can put the minds of these patients’ at ease, then we should do everything we can to ensure that happens.”