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More Accurate Imaging Test for Breast Cancer

New device might reduce false-positives (September 26)

A joint Brigham Young University/University of Utah team is developing a new breast cancer screening technique that has the potential to reduce false positives, and, possibly, minimize the need for invasive biopsies.

The group has created a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device that could improve the accuracy of screening by scanning for sodium levels in the breast. The method was reported in the academic journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

The device produces as much as five times more accurate images than previous efforts with an emerging methodology called sodium MRI.

X-ray mammography is the most common screening tool for breast cancer, but the procedure involves exposure to radiation and is unpleasant. Mammograms are relatively inexpensive, but they still lead to biopsies when a questionable area is detected. Because of their increased sensitivity, proton MRI scans are generally used to further examine suspected areas found by mammograms. However, they can produce false positives, leading to unnecessary interventions.

Sodium MRI has the potential to improve assessment of breast lesions, because sodium levels are thought to be increased in malignant tumors. The research team suggests that the addition of sodium MRI to a breast cancer screening examination could provide important additional diagnostic information that might reduce false-positive results. The new device picks up a level of detail and structure not previously achieved.

The novel technique returns high-quality images in only 20 minutes, improving the odds that sodium MRI breast scans could be implemented clinically. The MRI team’s goal is to produce a device that can obtain both excellent sodium and good proton images without requiring the patient be repositioned for multiple scans.

[Source: Brigham Young University; September 26, 2013]

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