Building a Better Mammogram

Monday, 27 Jan 2014 04:01 PM

By Nick Tate

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Dartmouth College researchers have developed a new approach to diagnosing cancer in women with dense breasts that marks a vast improvement over current mammogram technology.
 
The new technique, which combines MRI scans with near-infrared spectroscopy, offers greater flexibility, speed, and accuracy than current breast imaging approaches, and allows radiologists to "see" tumors more clearly.
 
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The development, reported in the journal Academic Radiology, could allow women with dense breasts who have inconclusive mammograms to undergo this new procedure before an invasive biopsy to look for tumors.
 
The MRI/NIRS combination offers particular advantages to women with dense breasts, who are more likely to develop and die from breast cancer, in part because it is harder for radiologists to identify cancerous tissues in dense tissues when using traditional imaging equipment. Standard breast screening is effective 77-97 percent of the time in a normal breast, but when a breast is dense precision falls to 63-89 percent, researchers noted.
 
Biomedical engineers from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth developed the new technology by designing a set of eight light-transmitting cables that can be adjusted to surround the breast with light tension. Eight women participated in a trial of the new design.

"We found that the new interface allowed us to target lesions more effectively than ever before, said Michael Mastanduno. "Set up time was faster and images were of higher quality."
 
The work was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

Editor's Note: Knowing these 5 cancer-causing signs is crucial to remaining cancer-free for life

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