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Reflections on the 6th annual “Why Study Mammographic Density?” conference

Anton Zerle – VP Sales & Marketing ANZ – Published on October 20, 2020

Over the past week, international health care experts from around the world addressed virtual audiences at InforMD’s biennial Why Study Mammographic Density? conference (#WhyMD2020). Session topics ranged from epidemiology and genetics to health policy and community to breast measurement and screening — the latter of which included a presentation on the “Performance of Automated Breast Density Solutions in the Real World” by Volpara Health’s CEO & Chief Scientist, Dr. Ralph Highnam.

Volpara’s whole approach to applying AI in medicine is to view things holistically – you need to understand the biology, the pathology, the x-ray physics before you start running AI, you cannot view “data as just data”, and this conference is a unique opportunity to see and absorb that full range of knowledge. In fact, the whole first day was entirely about biology with talks looking at what actually is breast density, how it forms and develops, right the way through to the mechanical properties of dense tissue versus non-dense tissues.

Volpara research partners Professor John Hopper of the University of Melbourne and Dr. Gretchen Gierach of the US National Cancer Institute were presenters at the conference. During session 3, Dr. Gierach hosted the keynote on “Epidemiology of Breast Density in Relation to Breast Cancer Risk and Progression.”

Prof. Hopper spoke on “New mammography-based measures of breast cancer risk and ‘missing heritability.’ ”

The last day of #WhyMD2020, brought discussions of breast screening policy and the importance of ensuring patients are making informed decisions when it comes to their care. A/Prof Bernadette Richards presented on “Breast density: Informed decision-making and the law” from her viewpoint at the Adelaide Law School in Adelaide, Australia — a city which contains long-term users of Volpara’s density technology.

During the final session, Dr. Robin Seitzman from DenseBreast-Info, Inc. — which recently wrapped up a day-long social media campaign for #Densebreastday — spoke further about patient education.

In today’s virtual setting, it was lovely to see many of the speakers who have dedicated their lives to saving many women and their families from breast cancer.