(Embargoed) CHAPEL HILL Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but better pictures from the breast cancer screening technology known as mammography would be worth far more. Enhanced images could boost doctors ability to diagnose the deadly illness early and save countless lives.
In hope of cutting the toll from breast cancer among women in the United States and beyond, the National Cancer Institute has awarded a $26.5 million grant to a consortium of researchers at 19 institutions in the United States and Canada. Clinical scientists, statisticians, physicists and others will compare the new digital mammography to standard film mammography in a project eventually involving almost 50,000 women.
The grant will go to the American College of Radiology Imaging Network to fund a study titled the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial. Using computer and special detectors, digital mammography produces a digital image of the breast that can be displayed on high-resolution monitors.
Standard mammography has been the most studied screening technology over the past 40 years, and so we know more about it than almost any other diagnostic technique in medicine, said principal investigator Dr. Etta D. Pisano of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
What we have is a well-proven technology and one that is in its infancy and not as well studied yet so we have to be very careful, said Pisano, professor of radiology at the UNC School of Medicine and co-leader of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Centers breast program. Before it is widely used, we want to make sure that digital mammography is at least as good as standard mammography at finding early breast cancers.
Digital mammography may reveal cancers in women with dense breast tissue better because of its improved contrast resolution, she said. Smaller previous studies also suggested it could reduce the number of women called back to check suspicious lesions.
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill