Dual Scan Mammoscope may detect breast cancer early in women with dense breasts
USA: It is already known that dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer and limits the detection of cancer with mammography. Now, a portable breast imaging system being developed by the researchers of the University at Buffalo may help in identifying breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue. The new imaging system is called Dual Scan Mammoscope (DSM) that combines light and ultrasound technology.
The study, published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, was led by researchers at the University at Buffalo in collaboration with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Windsong Radiology.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in women, and early detection is extremely important to improve survival rates. Currently, an X-ray mammogram is the only modality for mass screening of asymptomatic women. However, it has decreased sensitivity in radiographically dense breasts, which is also associated with a higher risk for breast cancer. There are alternatives methods in such cases, including MRI. But MRI tests are costly, they require intravenous contrast agents that can cause allergic reactions, and they're not easily portable. According to the authors, the new system has the potential to detect breast cancer earlier, thereby increasing survival rates.
In the study, Jun Xia, Biomedical Engineering, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, United States, and colleagues presented a new photoacoustic tomography system that provides visualization of angiographic features in a human breast with mammogram-like images.
The design, Xia says, ensures optimal light delivery and acoustic detection, enabling imaging deep into the breast tissue. It's also portable; for example, it could easily fit into mobile mammogram units.
In initial laboratory tests, the research team imaged breast sizes B, D, and DD. The study highlights the D breast test, which shows imaging through 7 centimetres—the first time a photoacoustic system produced imaging that deep, the research team believes.
Xia says the DSM method shows promise in detecting tumours in the sub-millimetre range, provided they exhibit sufficiently developed blood vessels.
The team plans additional studies, including the imaging of more patients with different breast sizes and tumour characteristics, to ensure the DSM machine's effectiveness.
"Early cancer detection plays a critical role in the overall cancer survival rate. Our system may address the limitations of mammograms and offer a radiation-free screening technique for patients with dense breasts," concluded the authors.
DSM versus Mammogram
The DSM is similar to a mammogram, in that patients stand upright to have their breast compressed for imaging. Unlike mammograms, however, the DSM requires only mild compression of the breast, likely reducing the severity of pain that women can experience pain during the procedure.
Unlike a mammogram, the DSM is a radiation free-test. It uses a laser to illuminate breast tissue. In turn, this generates acoustic waves that are measured by ultrasound technology. The combination of lasers and ultrasound is an imaging technique called photoacoustic tomography.
While MRI requires a contrast agent, the DSM test uses haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. The technology Xia and his colleagues are developing features two simultaneous scans, one working from the bottom of the breast while the other works from the top.
The study, "Dual Scan Mammoscope (DSM) — A New Portable Photoacoustic Breast Imaging System with Scanning in Craniocaudal Plane," is published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.
Provided by: University of Buffalo