New breast cancer test may reduce false positives
Although improvements in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help detect breast cancer in many women—even better than mammography and ultrasound—its downfall is that it can produce false-positive results, which may lead to unnecessary treatment. But a new technique devised by a joint Brigham Young-University of Utah research team may reduce false positives and possibly minimize the need for invasive biopsies.
This new screening technique involves an MRI device that could improve not only the process of breast cancer screening but the accuracy as well. How? By scanning for sodium levels in the breast. Details of the technique are revealed in a study published in the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.
The device produces an image that’s as much as five times more accurate than previous efforts and uses an emerging methodology called sodium MRI.
According to the study, the logic behind sodium MRI is that sodium concentrations are believed to increase in malignant tumors. Therefore, the researchers believe sodium MRI offers the potential to improve how breast lesions are assessed. By adding sodium MRI to a breast cancer screening exam, the team believes it will provide important additional diagnostic information that will cut down on false positives.
Based on the research conducted so far, it takes only 20 minutes for the new technique to return high-quality images, which improves the odds that sodium MRI scans can be done clinically. The research team’s goal is to develop a device that’s able to obtain both excellent sodium and proton images without the need for the patient to be repositioned for multiple scans.
“This method is giving us new physiological information we can’t see from other types of images, said Neal Bangerter, a member of the research team, in a statement. “We believe this can aid in early breast cancer detection and characterization while also improving cancer treatment and monitoring.”
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