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Screening for breast cancer without X-rays: Lasers and sound merge in promising diagnostic technique
Date:5/7/2012

WASHINGTON, May 7X-ray mammography is an important diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer, but it has certain drawbacks that limit its effectiveness. For example, it can give in false positive and negative results; it also exposes women to low doses of ionizing radiation, which while accepted as safe still carry some risk.

In the first phase of clinical testing of a new imaging device, researchers from Netherlands' University of Twente and Medisch Spectrum Twente Hospital in Oldenzaal used photoacoustics light-induced sound rather than ionizing radiation to detect and visualize breast tumors. The team's preliminary results, which were conducted on 12 patients with diagnosed malignancies and reported today in the Optical Society's (OSA (http://www.osa.org)) open-access journal Optics Express (http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe), provide proof-of-concept support that the technology can distinguish malignant tissue by providing high-contrast images of tumors.

"While we're very early in the development of this new technology, it is promising. Our hope is that these early results will one day lead to the development of a safe, comfortable, and accurate alternative or adjunct to conventional techniques for detecting breast tumors," explained researcher Michelle Heijblom, a Ph.D. student at the University of Twente.

Photoacoustics, a hybrid optical and acoustical imaging technique, builds on the established technology of using red and infrared light to image tissue and detect tumors. This technology, called optical mammography, reveals malignancies because blood hemoglobin readily absorbs the longer, redder wavelengths of light, which reveals a clear contrast between blood-vessel dense tumor areas and normal vessel environments. However, it is difficult to target the specific area to be imaged with this approach.

As a means of impr
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Contact: Sarah Cogan
scogan@osa.org
202-416-1409
Optical Society of America
Source:Eurekalert  

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Screening for breast cancer without X-rays: Lasers and sound merge in promising diagnostic technique
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