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Study: Imaging Of Little Help For Breast Pain

March 9, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging, Diagnostic Imaging
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Imaging does little good for women with breast pain, finds a study by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center.

The researchers analyzed 916 women who were referred from 2006 through 2009 for breast pain at Boston Medical Center. Those for whom imaging was ordered (mammogram, MRI, or ultrasound) derived no significant benefit but did tend to undergo additional doctor visits, more tests, and sometimes biopsies.

The imaging found six cancers, but in each case either an exam had already detected a lump or a routine screening mammogram had already found a cancer in the other breast. Said lead author Mary Beth Howard, an MD candidate at the medical school:

We hope this study is a first step in providing better direction for managing women with breast pain and hopefully emphasizing that additional imaging studies are not indicated in women unless there is a focal breast complaint, such as a mass or lump.

Howard was quoted in a Boston University news release. The study is available online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In other news regarding breast imaging, NPL (the National Physical Laboratory, the United Kingdom’s National Measurement Institute), in suburban London, has announced a successful initial trial of a new ultrasound technique that it says potentially could replace mammography.

Different biological tissues conduct sound at different speeds, which can distort ultrasound images. NPL’s new technique detects the intensity of ultrasonic waves and converts it to heat, reducing the sound-speed distortion.

The device used for the initial trial was pretty primitive. Any clinical scanner using this technology is years away. For details, see this NPL news release.

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A landmark 2004 clinical study led to revised guidelines that made radiation therapy for older women with breast cancer optional. Has that changed clinical practice? Find out at our Facebook page.

Related seminar: Breast Imaging and Intervention: A Comprehensive Review (discount and free shipping)

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