Alternatives to Mammograms on Horizon

Study examines 3 new breast-imaging methods

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MONDAY, May 3, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Three new electromagnetic imaging techniques are being tested for their ability to detect breast abnormalities, including cancer, and provide an alternative to mammography.

In a study in the May issue of Radiology, Dartmouth Medical School researchers used a combination of the three techniques to image the breasts of 23 women.

Electrical impedance spectroscopy, microwave-imaging spectroscopy and near-infrared spectroscopy used low-frequency electrical currents, microwaves and infrared light, respectively, to create a computerized cross section image of breast tissue.

"This study was the first stepping stone in our ongoing research to gain a better understanding of the electromagnetic properties of breast tissue," Dr. Steven Poplack, a professor of radiology at Dartmouth Medical School and co-director of breast imaging and mammography at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

"Once we establish normal ranges for specific breast characteristics, we'll begin working on recognizing breast abnormalities, including cancer," Poplack said.

If they're proven effective, these electromagnetic imaging techniques could help boost breast cancer screening rates.

"If we can offer an alternative breast imaging technique that addresses (mammography) radiation concerns and is also more comfortable, the hope is that more women may elect to be screened for breast cancer," Poplack said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer screening.

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, May 3, 2004

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