US Researchers have designed a new type of ultrasound which has been tested and found to be very effective in determining whether lumps in breasts are cancerous or not.
The procedure, called elasticity imaging, measures the tissues' elasticity and compression in response to pressure. Generally, tumors are harder and less elastic than benign lumps. a Thus, the test can tell a dangerous growth from a harmless one.
'A tumorous lump should distort very little in response to movement,' said Richard Barr, 'whereas a benign one is much more malleable.'
'The finding, if confirmed in a larger trial, could reduce the number of unnecessary breast biopsies and reassure women that their tumors are harmless,' he said . Richard Barr is a radiologist at Southwoods X-Ray and Open MRI in Youngstown, Ohio, who lead the study.
Using the elasticity ultrasound, radiologists categorized breast lesions. Those that appeared smaller were harmless while lesions that appeared larger were malignant.
The finding later checked with biopsy showed a sensitivity of 100 percent and a specificity of 99 percent.
'If we can confirm that the lesion ... is benign, then we can eliminate a lot of biopsies,' 'MRI is a very sensitive technique. It finds everything. The problem is it is not very specific,' Barr said.
'Elasticity imaging appears to have very high specificity,' Barr said. 'The combination of those two may be a very powerful tool in the detection of cancer.' Barr proposes to continue this research at many centers involving more than 2,000 patients beginning in January, he added.
This scan does not appear to be different from a routine ultrasound, which doctors use to spot lumps. The only alteration is the addition of a piece of software that can translate the data to determine how much the tissue is distorting.
This Elasticity imaging ultrasound technique, if confirmed by a larger study, could become an effective tool for early breast cancer detection.