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New Mammogram Technology Shows Density

August 2, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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A new technology called spectral mammography automatically measures breast density while delivering half the radiation dose of conventional mammography, according to preliminary research presented today at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine’s annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Said Sabee Molloi, PhD, one of the researchers:

Spectral mammography versus standard mammography is like comparing color television to black and white TV. Although the object represented is the same, the color image has more information inside.

Dr. Molloi spoke at a news conference ahead of the presentation and was quoted by Health Imaging. He is vice chairman of research for the department of radiological sciences at the University of California, Irvine, where the research was conducted.

When women have dense breast tissue, secondary screening with another modality, such as MRI, may be necessary for cancers to be detected. Spectral mammography could help physicians determine when secondary screening might be appropriate. Estimates of the proportion of women with dense breasts range up to 40 percent.

Spectral mammography measures the energy from X-ray photons as they hit the detector. “Spectral mammography allows the image to be viewed at two different energy levels instead of just one,” said Dr. Molloi, “helping quantify the density of a woman’s breasts and, in turn, her relative risk.”

Added Huanjun Ding, PhD, another researcher, “”It’s fully automatic and doesn’t depend on the experience of the radiologist.” In sum, he said:

Spectral mammography could become a standard of care for screening mammograms and could identify high-risk women who could benefit from more sensitive screening exams.

He was quoted by DOTmed News, also reporting on the news conference.

So far, the researchers have scanned four breast phantoms of varying densities. The density error rate was 1.35 to 1.54 percent, they said. Next, they hope, will be a pilot study involving actual women.

Related seminar: Breast & Women’s Imaging Seminar

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