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So, if you’re here you’re looking for answers – and here I am with more pointers to find clinical trials, or research, that is going on around mammograms and breast cancer screening. Mammograms are used across the world as the primary method of imaging the breast, taking a detailed picture of the internal breast anatomy and hopefully, showing whether there’s a tumour there or not.

Why hopefully? Why not definitely? Well, mammograms are pretty good at what they’re used for – breast cancer screening – but they’re not perfect at it, (no test is) having a 75-90% accuracy Image showing a squeezed lemonrate. Sometimes mammograms don’t see tumours because the overlying breast tissue is too dense. Sometimes overlapping breast tissue looks like a tumour when it isn’t, meaning that the person is recalled for an anxious further assessment.

Image showing a blood pressure cuff on an armWhat about the squash? The pain? As Leslie describes here, and Claire here, it’s the thing that the mammogram community call ‘the compression’. And it’s one of the things that put people off having mammograms the most.

Some people find mammograms excruciating, others describe it ‘like having your blood pressure taken – but squashing another part of you!’ Whatever: it’s uncomfortable.  But, thankfully, not for long – ten seconds is the time it takes for a mammogram to take.

We’re all still searching

We’re all still searching for either an alternative to mammograms, or another method of finding cancer, not only in breast screening, but in other areas of cancer screening too. We’re looking for a better way to do everything; and I’ll point you to some of the trials going on in further posts – some of these trials you may even be asked to take part in when you are invited for breast screening, depending on where you are in the UK.

So what do we think about research? Well, the WoMMeN team are pretty happy with the mammogram, it’s tried, tested and proven to be up to 95% effective. However, that doesn’t mean that we

rule out other ways of finding breast cancer, or believe that the mammogram is infallible, oh no. We want the answer to better, early diagnosis of breast cancer just as much as anyone else – butImage showing the word 'success' we think that mammograms will have a place in that answer for a while yet.

Research gives us the ‘next big thing’ – or not, depending on the results of the trial. It’s important to remember that some inventions just don’t perform as well as it was hoped they would – so just because a trial is happening doesn’t mean that the end result will be a success.

Trials and research posted on the WoMMeN site are not endorsed by us, but they are posted to raise awareness of the different types of research being undertaken in clinical trials worldwide. None of this information should be used at all in clinical care without consulting a licensed medic or health professional. The WOMMeN site is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the clinical trials or research presented.

Try looking here

You can search for UK clinical trials at the UK Clinical Trials Gateway Searching is sometimes quite tricky, however, as the trials are called some strange names! The website has some search tips and hints to make getting what you want easier, so follow those.

You can search for trials worldwide on  this website too. This gives a lot of results because it is worldwide; but if you use the ‘Modify Search’ option you can narrow down the results to only those trials with results, or those still recruiting.

The World Health Organisation also has a search portal,Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and this is also worldwide – searches get very large results, so I’d recommend using the term ‘breast imaging’ or ‘breast cancer diagnosis’ so you don’t get swamped!

Image showing orange sunset

Orange sunset

I hope you have found this useful, later on in this series I’ll be posting about individual research in breast imaging and breast screening that’s come to our attention, with signposts to the research results, because that’s what we all want to see: the results, and how it affects breast cancer diagnosis.