New Scanner Catches Early Signs of Breast Cancer

It finds subtle changes in cells that occur before a lump can be felt or seen

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THURSDAY, Dec. 4, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A new scanner that can detect subtle changes in breast cells before a lump can be seen with mammography or felt by touch has been developed by Duke University Medical Center researchers.

The Duke team says the early detection ability offered by their new scanner should let doctors more successfully treat breast cancer before a tumor is formed or before the cancer spreads to lymph nodes.

The scanner is a camera that uses nuclear medicine to identify chemical changes in breast cells that indicate the cells are becoming malignant. The scanner has been extensively tested using artificial breasts. Testing in women will begin this spring.

The Duke researchers say the scanner may be particularly useful for detecting tumors in large or dense breasts, which often can't be penetrated by traditional X-ray mammography. The new scanner's geometry also allows it to image small breasts and the nearby chest wall.

It can provide images of the axillary lymph nodes so doctors can check if cancer has spread there. Traditional mammography can't do that.

The new scanner doesn't require any breast compression and women may not have to remove their bras when being checked by the scanner.

Information about the scanner was presented Dec. 4 at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Dec. 4, 2003

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