New technology helps ID aggressive early breast cancer

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A new study, conducted by the University of Michigan, has found a new technology that is able to identify even the earliest signs of cancer by using a biomarker ratio imaging microscopy.

The biomarker ratio imaging microscopy (BRIM) technique is able to determine levels of certain biomarkers in tumors, identifying the best course of treatment for the patient.

"A patient with DCIS is typically treated as if she has invasive disease, which is easy to understand. When women hear breast cancer, they're petrified. And physicians are keenly concerned about outcomes as well," says study author Howard R. Petty, PhD, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and of microbiology and immunology. "But, DCIS is not the same disease for everyone. If we can identify potentially non-aggressive lesions, perhaps those women don't need aggressive treatment."

The researchers analyzed biopsy samples of 23 patients and through the use of fluorescence imaging, the samples were entered into a computer program that was able to determine the level of biomarkers per pixel and therefore determining the level of expression of cancer.

"This approach is going to be a new and powerful one. It works because we're looking at it mathematically," Petty says.

Researchers stated that BRIM has the possibility to not only prevent overtreatment, but to also increase the types of treatments patients can choose from in regards to their own care.