MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have developed a
new technique to produce 3-D images of breast tissue that they say
are two to three times sharper than current hospital CT scans with
a lower radiation dose than is delivered currently by conventional
"Mammography relies on two-dimensional images," said Jianwei Miao, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a researcher with the university's California NanoSystems Institute.
That may help explain why 10 percent to 20 percent of breast
tumors go undetected on mammogram, Miao said.
CT scans are also three-dimensional, Miao said, but are not
considered useful for detecting breast cancer, as it requires a
larger dose of radiation than a mammogram.
To improve detection of breast cancer, Miao, working with UCLA
colleagues and German scientists, developed ''a new way to
visualize human breast cancer in three dimensions with a radiation
dose somewhat lower than that in current mammograms."
To develop the new technique, Miao's team combined a type of
X-ray imaging with an image-reconstruction method known by
scientists as "equally sloped tomography." One reason the technique
may be better for detection is that it measures the difference in
the way an X-ray oscillates through normal breast tissue compared
to tissue with cancer, the scientists said.
Five independent radiologists have now evaluated the method.
They found that it can reduce the radiation dose by about 74
percent compared to conventional methods. It produced images with
the highest image quality compared to 3-D images of breast tissues
captured through other standard methods.
The report of the technique and evaluation appeared Oct. 22 in
the online edition of the journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The technique won't be available to patients for some time, Miao
"Before our technique is available, we need a more advanced X-ray source," he said. The equipment for that source is available now only in large-scale research lab environments.
The X-ray source needs to be smaller so it can fit easily into a
hospital or clinic room, he said. It could be a decade or more
before the 3-D technique is clinically available.
Any technique that would lower radiation doses from mammograms
would be good, said Dr. Debra Monticciolo, chairwoman of the
American College of Radiology Quality and Safety Commission.
But she, too, cautioned that the technique is still in the
"The clinical equipment to develop these 3-D images is not currently available," she said. "It hasn't been developed yet."
Mammograms performed on modern equipment deliver very low doses
of radiation, according to the American Cancer Society. For one
mammogram, the dose is about 0.1 to 0.2 rads, a measure of
radiation. To put that in perspective, that is about the same
amount of radiation a woman would receive flying coast to coast on
a commercial airplane, according to the society.
To learn more about mammograms, visit the
American Cancer Society.
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