New test can help detect breast cancer a decade before it develops

Imagine being able to detect breast cancer a decade before it develops.

Doctors are saying that dream may soon become a reality with a new test called ForeCYTE.

“The idea is to get cells from the ducts of the breast – that's where most cancers form,” said Dr. Jonathan Herman, OB-GYN for Elite Women’s Healthcare in Hyde Park, NY.  “We pump the breast (with a special breast pump) and collect that on a very thin membrane, put a fixative on it and send that off to get to the lab."

According to Herman, very early changes in the cells can be identified, so patients can take preventative measures if they choose.

This type of surveillance is important to 42-year-old Marci Dulgerian, whose mother and grandmother recently died of breast cancer.

“It’s so easy to catch it early on and there’s so many things that we can do,” said Dulgerian, one of Herman’s patients.  “You can take prophylactic measures.  There’s so many treatments for breast cancer, and I’m just so sorry that my mom wasn’t able to do this kind of testing.”

Herman, who also treated Dulgerian’s mom, said this painless test should be used in conjunction with other technologies.

“In no way, shape or form should we look at this as a substitute,” Herman said.  “It’s a helper for your mammography.  It’s a helper for your breast exam, and it’s a helper for your breast ultrasound – and a helper for a history.”

Atossa Genetics manufactures ForeCYTE, which is a radiation-free test.  It is designed for all women, but those who have dense breast or a strong family history are particularly good candidates.  According to Dr. Steven Quay, Atossa’s CEO, younger women can also benefit from ForeCYTE.

“Breast cancer has a peak age group of about 45 to 60, so really the younger women – the 20, 30 and maybe 40 year old – is the ideal population for this,” Herman said.  “As you know, most mammograms begin at 40 or sometimes as early as 35, but definitely in an older age group.”

Dulgerian said the test gave her peace of mind, but she will continue to get tested routinely.

“Why would someone choose to become another victim to breast cancer when this test can give them all the information they need to save their life?” Dulgerian said.

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