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Breast CT Scanner Could Improve Cancer Screen Comfort
Date:7/31/2009

Researchers study system designed for diagnosis as way to treat disease

FRIDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Breast computed tomography (CT) scans, already used experimentally to diagnose breast cancer, may also be able to treat it, a California researcher reports.

"Breast CT is superior to mammography for [detecting] masses," said John Boone, vice chair of research radiology at the University of California Davis. He presented information about the potential of breast CT for treatment this week at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine meeting, in Anaheim, Calif.

Since 2004, Boone has led a group of UC Davis researchers in developing the breast CT scan for diagnosing breast cancer in women. The technology's pluses, said Boone, include being more comfortable than conventional mammograms but just as safe.

More than 200 women have been scanned with the custom-designed breast CT prototype scanner, he said. The technology has not yet made its way into clinical practice, he said, but preliminary results look good. "Breast CT is still experimental for diagnosis," he said. But it is already looking to be more effective than traditional mammography at detecting breast masses.

More work needs to be done to find microcalcifications, tiny specks of calcium which don't always mean cancer is present but bear checking, he added.

Next, Boone hopes to use the breast CT scanner to guide interventional procedures such as a robotic biopsy, radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation to treat breast cancer.

With the breast CT scanner, a woman lies on her stomach, face down on the table while the breast drops through a hole in the table; the CT scanner then rotates around the breast. The position is considered more comfortable, especially for big-breasted women.

Boone hopes that the new scanner could be used to perform image-guided therapies such as the technique known as radiofrequency ab
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