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Digital Mammography Has Potential to Detect Small Tumors, Increase Accuracy in Dense Breasts

Digital Mammography Has Potential to Detect Small Tumors, Increase Accuracy in Dense Breasts

CHICAGO--Initial experience with a prototype digital mammography
system indicates that the new technology has the potential to
detect breast tumors much smaller in size than is possible with
conventional mammography, and can be manipulated to explore areas
of breast tissue that harbor occult cancer.

As a result of positive preliminary research results, full-scale
clinical trials of the digital mammography system will begin in
the next few months, Martin Yaffe, PhD, reported at the Radiological
Society of North America meeting.

In tests using contrast-detail and mammographic phantoms that
simulate signs of cancer or other breast disease, as well as actual
breast scans from volunteers, the digital system has achieved
spatial resolution of images as small as 1/20th of a millimeter.
[Oncology News International's original report on Dr. Yaffe's
research (August, 1994) includes a digital phantom image.]

"In laboratory tests, we've seen smaller, more subtle structures
than can be seen with conventional mammography," said Dr.
Yaffe, senior scientist, Imaging Research Program, Sunnybrook
Health Science Centre, and professor of radiology and medical
biophysics, University of Toronto, Canada.

With special computer graphics techniques, the system has increased
the clarity of images of dense breast tissue, which is difficult
to screen for cancer mammographically, and it has enhanced the
depiction of fibers or deposits that often define the extent of
breast cancer.

'Zoom in' for a Closer Look

"The image can be altered on the digital mammography system
to highlight an area where a cancer might be obscured by normal
tissue because a woman has dense breasts," Dr. Yaffe said.
The radiologist also can 'zoom in' for a closer look at microcalcifications
or other masses that are suspicious for cancer, he said.

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