"The concept is good," said Dr. Chika Madu, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
But she added a caveat that the energy level talked about by Boone may have to be adjusted. "It may come at a price of increased toxicity to the skin," she noted.
The technique may not work for all cancers or all women, she added. "In small-breasted women, not enough breast may come through the hole sufficiently [to treat]," she said. Cancer that is close to the chest wall rather than the nipple may not be treatable by this technique either, she said.
Even so, Madu said, "I think it's worth exploring."
Boone's study was funded partially by the industry, including Varian Medical Systems, Fuji Medical Systems and Hologic Corp.
In another presentation at the same meeting, Michael O'Connor, a professor of radiologic physics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., reported on molecular breast imaging (MBI), a new technique that uses gamma cameras designed for breast imaging.
"The devices look somewhat like a mammography unit," he said. A small amount of radioisotopes is given intravenously and is taken up by any tumors in the breasts, he said.
In a study of 1,000 patients, mammography picked up three cancers but MBI picked up 10, he said.
Next, O'Connor hopes to reduce the dose of radioisotopes and begin a clinical trial. The technique is expected to especially benefit women with dense breasts, for whom mammography is not as accurate at cancer detection.
Efforts to find ways to detect small cancers that can't be felt on exams should be stepped up, said Dr. Gary Whitman, a professor of radiology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Other studies suggest MBI has promis
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