Extending breast cancer screening to younger women will benefit in terms of economic efficiency and equity

December 27, 2015

The hybrid scanner used to detect her cancer combines 3-D digital x-ray breast tomosynthesis together with 3-D molecular breast imaging tomosynthesis, a recently developed technique that uses intravenously injected compounds (tracers) that are absorbed to a much greater degree by malignant lesions than benign ones. A special camera positioned in close proximity to the breast then performs functional imaging of the entire breast, while the digital x-ray tomosynthesis obtains co-registered structural images.

In Armstrong's case, the tracers targeted exactly where the tiny, malignant mass was hidden - in the midst of a particularly radiodense region of her breast.

"Despite using the latest clinically available imaging technologies and the most expert radiologists, breast cancers are still missed, especially in women with radiodense breasts," says Williams. "This is why our research is so important for patients."

But, as Williams points out, this pilot clinical study of the 17 women tested could have far greater implications.

"Our early results show that the DMT scanner is a feasible and accurate method for detecting and diagnosing breast cancer," says Williams. "In our study, we not only were able to detect a missed cancerous lesion but we also corroborated every single benign diagnosis from biopsy results."

"These findings demonstrate an obvious need for larger studies to further prove the efficacy of this new device," Williams says.

SOURCE University of Virginia Cancer Center