NCI Funds Breast CT Scanning Research

NCI Funds Breast CT Scanning Research

John Boone, a UC Davis professor of radiology and a physicist, was recently awarded $2.88 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute to support the development and research of computed tomography (CT) for breast cancer screening.

Boone is an innovative researcher and a pioneer when it comes to breast CT. He and his team of physicians and researchers have been focused for over 15 years on advancing the technology. His team has already created four breast CT scanners, each offering several improvements in spatial resolution.

This study, “Breast CT: Final Steps to Translation” will enroll more than 400 women, identified with standard methods, who present abnormal lesions that might require a breast biopsy. The project will compare mammography to breast CT and assess which modality is more appropriate for detecting breast lesions that are cancerous. Contrast-enhanced breast CT will also be compared with contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); with the first technique, the patient is injected with a contrast agent that helps detect vascular tumors, such as breast tumors. The main goal is to assess if breast CT is in fact better for detecting lesions that end up diagnosed as malignant.

“Because breast cancer can present as both soft tissue masses and as micro-calcifications, this means that our newest scanner needs to detect both better than digital mammography. Only then will breast CT technology be able to improve breast cancer detection rates in women at normal risk for breast cancer,” said Boone.

The second study will determine if contrast breast CT is more efficient for assessing the breast than MRI, since it takes less time both for the patient and radiologist.

“If shown to be equivalent to contrast-enhanced breast MRI, contrast-enhanced breast CT would be a viable and far more cost-effective tool for imaging women with suspicious lesions. This would likely reduce the negative biopsy rate and increase the positive predictive value of breast imaging in general,” Boone added. “Our long-term goals are to show with our newest scanner that we can improve cancer detection rates in the screening population over that of mammography and tomosynthesis. By increasing the performance of breast cancer screening in a practical and cost-efficient manner, we hope to move the standard-of-care to true 3D breast imaging in order to improve care and increase survival in women with breast cancer, and importantly to also reduce over-treatment of women with benign findings,” he concluded.

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