Breast cancer is the most common cancer within the UK, with one woman every 10 minutes being diagnosed with it. What’s more Breast Cancer Care has found that around 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
However, there is a bright spot: as illustrated by the Office for National Statistics. In 2015, one-year age-standardised breast cancer survival in England was 96.7%, increasing from 92.8% for patients diagnosed in 2000. Experts believe that mammograms and other sophisticated imaging options are offering life-saving insights while early detection and advancements in treatment options are radically improving the disease prognosis.
While technology cannot eliminate the fear and anxiety related to a breast cancer diagnosis, it is empowering patients by allowing them to advocate for the best care possible.
Tools powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and using cloud-based images allow ease of sharing across all care team members and consulting specialists around the country in the matter of minutes.
The quick access these tools provide is vital: when radiologists have rapid access to prior mammography images, they can see important changes to breast tissue over time – allowing for more precise and accurate diagnoses.
AI Technology also means that breast cancer patients can be more equal partners in their own care. They can access their health data on their own devices. They can check their test results, view complete histories and take a more active role in their healthcare decisions from the very beginning.
With the data more accessible and viewable to a broader network of clinicians, it is easier and less intimidating for patients to seek a second opinion or challenge a care or testing recommendation.
This ease of access is a vast improvement over just a few years ago, when patients – especially in rural settings – were burdened with the responsibility to maintain and travel with prior mammography images, burned to CDs, from specialist to specialist.
These CDs, and the images they stored, were vulnerable to being misplaced or damaged along the way. Too often the CDs were incompatible with a radiologist’s PACS system, leading to delays in diagnosis, while duplicate images were obtained. For those women who already felt worried and vulnerable, it was unnecessarily stress inducing.
Putting time on the patient’s side
Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister stated in a recent speech that, “The development of smart technologies to analyse great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than is possible by human beings opens up a whole new field of medical research and gives us a new weapon in our armory in the fight against disease.”
Whilst the NHS have also acknowledged the benefits that can be seen from providing cancer patients with these smart technologies such as FitBit, which enable the individual to monitor their progress in real time. Professor Jane Maher, Joint Chief Medical Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “It’s exciting that simple technology has the potential to positively impact the quality of life and survival rates of patients undergoing chemotherapy.”
Every patient’s cancer journey is unique. While technology can’t solve every challenge, we are proud of our role in facilitating the way data is shared and accessed to help patients regain some sense of control and empower them to fight for the best care possible.
We at Nuance would like to extend our gratitude to our many partners and clients who continue to make incredible strides against breast cancer. Together, we are making the journey a little easier, one patient at a time.