Studies by scientists at the Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University have discovered a correlation between the speed of ultrasound transmitted through breast tissue and the density of that tissue. This is potentially important because high amounts of dense breast tissue are associated with increased
breast cancer risk.
Using ultrasound avoids the use of ionizing x-rays used in typical mammography. The researchers are part of a team that has been developing a new form of performing ultrasound tomography, one in which the patient is in the prone position, with a breast projecting down into a bath of water. The breast is surrounded by a ring-shaped transducer for sending and collecting sound waves into the breast from all sides.
ultrasound detection captures both reflected and transmitted sound waves. From this, an ultrasound percent density (USPD)-thought to be a good proxy for mammographic density-can be determined. The method has been tried out in a clinical trial with a cohort of 100 patients and shows that USPD corresponds well with both qualitative and quantitative mammographic breast density measures.
These results are being reported next week at the meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) in Minneapolis. One of the scientists, Carri Glide (firstname.lastname@example.org), says that they hope to gain FDA approval and introduce the device into general use. Further information about the device can be found at www.karmanos.org/cure. (AAPM meeting information at http://www.aapm.org/meetings/07AM/VirtualPressRoom/generalrelease.asp)