Breast CT could be alternative to mammography for mass lesions

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Breast CT scans showed some advantages over traditional mammograms, according to research presented this week at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) annual meeting in Houston.

“Breast cancer shows up on a mammogram or imaging in two different ways -- a mass lesion or a spot,” said study author John Boone, vice chairman of radiology at the University of California Davis Medical Center.

The researchers screened 160 women with a CT breast exam, according to HealthDay News. With this method, the woman lies face down on a special table with one breast suspended through an opening. 

“We feel the breast CT was superior to traditional mammography for mass lesions, but mammography remains superior over breast CT for microcalcifications,” Boone said.

Several other centers are also studying breast CT, he noted. The role of breast CT is evolving, Boone said, and will depend on continuing research and how it bears out.

In his research, Boone and his colleagues have begun to study if PET/CT can track the metabolic activity of a tumor. If present, doctors can pinpoint the tumor and evaluate the effect of treatment, HealthDay reported.

Breast CT scans may be widely available in three to five years, Boone predicted.

But, he added, if it is going to play a role in breast imaging, “it has to be just as accurate in finding breast cancer [as mammography], and should not generate a higher rate of false positives.”