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Digital mammograms a step closer to reality to help catch breast cancer

Friday 4 February, 2022

Donate on Cancer Research Giving Day and double your impact for a cancer-free future

Researchers are now a step closer in developing automated life-saving breast cancer risk-prediction tests. These tests could revolutionise how mammography is used to detect the disease earlier, and in more women. 

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, BreastScreen Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria have discovered new features in a mammogram – some that only a computer can “see” – which predict a woman’s future risk of breast cancer. They did this by using high-speed computers and Artificial Intelligence. Now that mammography is digital, these tests can be automated.

University of Melbourne Professor John Hopper says the new mammogram risk scores are better in predicting breast cancer risk in a setting such as BreastScreen than breast density and the currently known genetic risk factors. 

“The new mammogram risk scores can also predict a woman’s risk of having a breast cancer diagnosed before the next regular screen. Mammogram risk scores can be combined with risk scores based on a woman’s family history, lifestyle factors, and genetic risk scores, taking a holistic view of breast cancer risk,” Professor Hopper said.

It is hoped that these new ideas will revolutionise the way mammography is used to screen for breast cancer. Radiologists will be alerted to women at higher risk of having breast cancer and will be able to make recommendations about future screening. 

Professor Hopper says that this ground-breaking research could not have happened without the crucial funding from Cancer Council Victoria.

“We are extremely grateful for the many years of funding from Cancer Council Victoria. Without their support, this research simply could not have happened,” Professor Hopper said.

On World Cancer Day this Friday 4 February, Cancer Council Victoria is holding its first-ever Cancer Research Giving Day to help raise funds for projects like this. Every dollar donated from 9am – 9pm on the day will be doubled by generous matched donors, with Cancer Council Victoria setting out to raise $400,000 on the day.

“The research that Professor Hopper is conducting, and the many other projects that we help fund, will go a long way in creating a cancer-free future for not only Victorians, but for every Australian affected by cancer,” Cancer Council Victoria’s CEO, Mr Todd Harper, said.

“In 2020, even with the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on our fundraising, we spent $23.7 million on cancer research. Together we can continue to fund world-class local research to improve diagnosis, detection, and treatment for every cancer,” Mr Harper added. 

To double your impact on Cancer Research Giving Day on 4 February and support Cancer Council Victoria’s lifesaving cancer research, please visit:

“For 12 hours, every dollar you give will have twice the impact for the 34,675 Victorians diagnosed with cancer each year and will bring us closer to a future without cancer,” Mr Harper said.