New Pap test for earlier breast cancer screening

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A new Pap test for the breast may identify breast disease, which often becomes breast cancer, years earlier than a lesion is found through mammogram or self exam.

NeoMatrix is showcasing the Halo Breast Pap Test, the first automatic, noninvasive test of its kind, at the 8th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons this week. Drawing on the proven success of screening for cellular and biological changes that increase risk in prostate and cervical cancer, the Halo Breast Pap system collects Nipple Aspirate Fluid (NAF) using gentle suction like a breast pump. The screening occurs in the primary care setting, where most women go for general healthcare. A large body of research demonstrates that the cytological assessment of breast duct fluid, or NAF, can identify a woman's specific risk of breast cancer. For example, a woman with atypia (abnormal cytology) has four to five times greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not produce fluid.

"Breast centers and breast specialists are expert at managing high-risk patients, but a critical problem to date has been that most women diagnosed with breast cancer have had no known risk factors; identifying asymptomatic women in the primary care setting and referring them for management by breast specialists has great potential to impact this disease," said Matt Heindel, chief operating officer of NeoMatrix. "We are pleased that although we have just recently started discussions with the medical community, we've already had several surgeons or facilities agree to act as referral sources in support of local primary care practices."

Since the introduction of the cervical Pap smear in the 1950s, the death rate from cervical cancer has declined over 70 percent through the identification of cancer-causing abnormal cell development. Virtually all invasive breast cancer originates in the ductal system of the breasts and progresses through identifiable stages of development. Benign breast disease - which can present as abnormal cells - is an important risk factor of breast cancer.