New Technique Can Spot Breast Tumors Other Methods Might Miss

New Technique Can Spot Breast Tumors Other Methods Might Miss
Researchers, funded by the European Union, have developed a technique to spot breast tumors that are difficult to detect and diagnose, and are frequently missed by current technology. Breast cancer survival rates have improved over the past 30 years. Early detection through screening, increased awareness, and improvements in treatment strategies all have contributed. But diagnostic methods still face some challenges. Mammography, one of the most common screening methods, still fails to detect 10 to 25 percent of tumors — mainly because of dense breast tissue — and cannot differentiate malignant and benign tumors. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most sensitive technique available for the diagnosis and accurate positioning of tumors. With MRI, breast lesions "light up" after the injection of contrast agents, due to the increased levels of blood vessels associated with cancer. MRI helps distinguish benign and malignant tumors and detect cancer in dense tissues, often revealing lesions that are hidden to mammography. However, some breast lesions that do not seem to occupy space in three dimensions — called non-mass-enhancing lesions — have subtleties that are difficult to detect. This represents a challenge for radiologists, as well as diagnosis and detection systems such as Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS), which help reduce human error. Researchers in MAMMA, a European Union-funded project, developed software with algorithms to
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