Researchers at the Hopkins University have observed a high resolution camera which detects tumours and may not appear on standard mammography. They have been comparing mammography with a technique called scintimammography, which involved the injection of a radioactive tracer chemical. Scintimammography, is good at distinguishing between malignant and benign tumours, has been done on a standard gamma camera. The limitation of this kind of camera is that it cannot pick up small tumours within dense breast tissue.
The Hopkins team has designed a new, breast specific, camera that overcomes these limitations. In a study of 40 women, with a total of 60 tumours, the new system proved to be able to detect more malignancies than the standard gamma camera. It was also more sensitive in the detection of small tumours, of less than one centimetre in diameter. Mammography is very useful, they say, but maybe scintimammography, with the new camera, might complement it by locating cancers that would not otherwise be detected.