Researchers in Utah are testing a device that would prevent false positives during breast cancer exams.
It's called a sodium MRI and produces images up to five times clearer than regular MRI technology, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The new technology is being developed by scientists at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.
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Besides needlessly alarming patients, false positive results force doctors to perform further tests and, in some cases, begin unnecessary cancer treatments.
The device works by measuring sodium in breast tissue — with higher concentrations indicating the presence of a malignant tumor.
Neal Bangerter, senior author on a study about the method published in the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, told the Tribune: “A breast MRI is very sensitive. There are tons of false positives. We’re catching stuff that isn’t a problem.”
The device can also determine how a malignant tumor is responding to treatment, he said.
“One of the big hopes for this technology is we’ll be able to assess a tumor’s response to therapy,” Bangerter said.
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