Dartmouth tests new breast cancer detection technique
LEBANON, N.H. — Dartmouth College engineers and radiologists are developing new approaches for an emerging technique in diagnostic imaging for breast cancer — MRI with near-infrared spectroscopy as reported in the journal Academic Radiology.
The technique may benefit women whose mammograms showed an abnormality and require further testing to rule out cancer. The test would be conducted before an invasive biopsy to look for tumors. For the new method to work successfully in routine patient care, it must adapt to an individual’s body size as well as accommodate a range of cup sizes. The equipment must also mobilize and maintain contact with the breast.
An MRI with near-infrared spectroscopy may offer specific advantages to women with dense breasts, who are more likely to develop and die from breast cancer. A dense breast is harder for a radiologist to “see through” when using traditional imaging equipment, which lacks the sensitivity to penetrate the dense tissue. Standard breast screening is effective 77 percent to 97 percent of the time in a normal breast, but falls to 63 percent to 89 percent when a breast is dense.
As a next step, Dartmouth researchers will test MRI with near-infrared spectroscopy in women with suspicious lesions.