Testing

An Innovative Approach to Breast Cancer Treatment

Every state-of-the-art diagnostic testing procedure for early detection is available at the EEB Center, so patients don't have to go to other locations for their tests. Not only is this convenient, but it provides a measure of extra assurance because each patient's care is completely planned and monitored by a team who knows her and her medical history.

Tests are conducted in a comfortable, attractive environment, separate from the treatment and research areas of the facility to put patients at ease. Results are explained thoroughly while the patient is still in the Clinic. If treatment is needed, a patient will usually know her options before leaving the Clinic on the day of her tests. Therefore the anxiety caused by waiting for the mammography report and recalls for repeat mammography do not occur at the EEB Center.

Diagnostic procedures used by the EEB Center include:

 

Mammography

The Center offers mammography with digital mammography equipment. A baseline mammogram is recommended at age 35 for all women, earlier if the patient has a family history of breast cancer.

 

Thermography

An imaging test that shows the heat pattern of the breasts. When this pattern is abnormal the patient is at increased risk of developing breast cancer. Patients presenting with breast cancer who have an abnormal breast infrared image have poorer prognosis and therefore often require more intense adjuvant therapy. Infrared imaging is also used to follow a patient's response to treatment.

 

Ultrasound

Useful in determining the nature of a mass, whether it is a cyst or tumor and can assist with the biopsy of abnormal lesions.

 

Senobright

SenoBright is the first tool to use contrast-enhanced spectral mammography (CESM) technology. CESM is designed to help your doctor spot breast cancer quickly and confidently, using images that can be easily compared to the initial mammogram.

 

How does it work? The exam is very much like a standard mammogram. The main difference is that the exam begins with the injection of an iodine-based contrast agent, which makes any areas of increased blood supply more visible in the x-ray. Because cancer cells stimulate the development of new blood vessels, these areas may indicate that cancer is present.

CESM then generates images of the breast using two different x-ray energy levels, and digitally combines the images. The resulting image hides dense breast tissue – the white areas – from view, and highlights any areas with increased blood supply.

 

The SenoBright exam takes less than 10 minutes, and the resulting image is designed to give your doctor the information needed to make a more confident diagnosis and decide whether or not you’ll need a biopsy.

 

Tumor Markers

Women who have been treated for breast cancer need careful follow-up to monitor for recurrence, as it is important to detect it early if it does occur. We have found several tumor markers useful for early detection of breast cancer recurrence and we utilize the most advanced laboratory tests to measure these tumor markers.  These markers are proteins that will be present in the blood when a metastatic tumor begins to grow after local control of the disease.  When tumor markers demonstrate recurrence, we may recommend chemotherapy, anti-hormone therapy or immunotherapy.

By testing your blood for CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen), we can often pick up a very early primary or recurrent breast cancer. Depending on your risk of breast cancer, this test may become part of your routine screening beginning at age 35.

The tumor marker CA 15-3 is a more specific blood test for the early detection of breast cancer recurrence. We may test for elevated CA 15-3 every three months, every six months or once a year.

 

Although elevated CA 125 tumor antigen is most often related to ovarian cancer, we have found that the CA 125 tumor marker can also be elevated in recurrent breast cancer.

 

Immunology Testing

In support of our vaccine program, we monitor the immune status of our patients.  Patients with poor immunity to their tumors or to antigens expressed by their tumors do not do as well as patients with good immunity.  Lymphocyte Blastogenesis Assays are done to determine if patients have depressed immunity to their breast cancer cells and breast cancer antigens.  At our Center breast cancer patients with depressed immunity are vaccinated against their own tumor cells, a breast cancer tumor cell line and breast cancer antigens.  These antigens are combined with biological adjuvants (IL-2 and GM-CSF) to produce our patented vaccine.  We hope to turn on both the cellular and humoral immune systems in our patients to destroy occult and known metastatic disease.

 

The serum protein IL-6 is also measured in the breast cancer patients.  High levels of IL-6 suggest that the patient may not respond to anti-hormone therapy, but may be a good candidate for treatment with our patented breast cancer vaccine.