Friday, 05 October 2018 05:30

Breast cancer detection improvement likely by 2020

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Breast cancer detection improvement likely by 2020 Pixabay

Researchers at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's Australian Synchrotron have developed a new application of an advanced imaging technique to improve the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.

A statement from ANSTO said the new technique, called in-line phase-contrast computed tomography or PCT, would be used on patients by 2020. It had been developed because of the high error rate with current screening techniques.

PCT uses conventional X-rays and was pioneered by Melbourne's Dr Keith Nugent and the late Dr Stephen Wilkins in the 1990s. About 30% of cancers are still missed by radiologists; for patients with high breast density, this is more than half.

The research was made possible by a Federal Government investment of $520 million in the facility in 2016.

The scientists carrying out the research are led by Professor Patrick Brennan of the University of Sydney and Dr Tim Gureyev of the University of Melbourne. It uses the Imaging and Medical Beamline at the Australian Synchrotron, with help provided by instrument scientist, Dr Daniel Häusermann.

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews told a meeting to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, that more than 800,000 mammograms were carried out in Australia annually.

“As many women will know, the experience of getting a mammogram can be uncomfortable and in too many cases the existing technology means cancers are missed," she said.

“This research will mean better image quality, a more accurate diagnosis, and a smaller radiation dose. Importantly, there will be no discomfort for patients as the breast compression process will no longer be necessary.”

Professor Andrew Peele, director of the Australian Synchrotron, ANSTO, said, “This vitally important research, enabled by lead researchers using ANSTO’s world-class Synchrotron and our scientists, highlights the very real benefits that science and technology can deliver to the community.

“This is the first application of the technique using synchrotron radiation in human patients, so there is a great deal of preparation and many things that have to take place before its use. Nonetheless we are greatly encouraged by findings so far.”

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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