Mayo Clinic, Rochester, researchers have developed a less expensive "molecular imaging" technique for detecting cancer in dense breast tissue using radioactive tracers.
Although mammography is quite effective at lowering mortality related to breast cancer, it does not work equally well in all women.
It frequently misses tumors that are there at the time of screening, particularly in women who have dense breast tissue that can hide tumors from doctors.
The National Cancer Institute has reported that mammograms miss up to 20 percent of breast cancers that are present at the time of screening.
Doctors often recommend women with dense breasts undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is more expensive but better at detecting cancer in dense tissue.
But the new technique developed by Michael O'Connor, a professor of radiologic physics at Mayo, has shown to be highly sensitive at detecting breast cancer.
O'Connor will describe the science behind this technique as well as the latest results from ongoing clinical trials, including one involving 1,000 women who all received the molecular imaging.
The technique has shown to be highly sensitive at detecting breast cancer, said O'Connor.
And now the researchers are aiming to make sure that the doses administered are as low as possible-equivalent to that one would receive in a mammogram.
A study supported by the Susan G. Komen Foundation will begin enrolling 1,000 women in a few months to see how effective the technique is with low-dose formulations.
The findings of the study will be presented at the 51st annual meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), which takes place from July 26 - 30 in Anaheim, CA.