Better Breast Scans

Computer-aided diagnosis systems improve effectiveness of disease screens

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MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- New computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) systems that help doctors analyze mammograms and ultrasound breast scans may improve the ability to detect breast cancer and track changes in a woman's breast over time.

These systems, designed by University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) scientists, are in various stages of development. The UMHS scientists presented an update on their research on Dec. 1 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

Among the test results, the UMHS team says one of their CAD systems improved the ability of highly experienced radiologists to distinguish cancerous tumors from benign growths on ultrasound breast scans. These scans are often used after a suspicious finding on a mammogram to help doctors decide if they need to do a biopsy.

In such cases, the assistance offered by the CAD system could mean that fewer women with benign disease would need to have an invasive biopsy procedure.

"In the near future, it won't be possible for computers to replace radiologists for this kind of test, because a radiologist looks at the patient's entire case, not just her ultrasound images. But if radiologists work with computers, they could improve their accuracy and spare some women benign autopsies," UMHS associate research professor Berkman Sahiner says in a prepared statement.

Sahiner suggests that since the ultrasound CAD system helped highly experienced breast radiologists, it may be able to prove even more helpful to less experienced doctors.

More information

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

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Dec. 1, 2003

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