Researchers said they developed a quicker, better and cheaper way than mammograms to detect breast cancer: A laser scanner that can find tumors in as little as 15 seconds. The near-infrared lasers shine pulses of light into the breast tissue, which, researchers report in a study published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, is more effective than traditional mammograms.
Researchers have been developing a new method for detecting breast cancer called photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT). The technique uses harmless pulses of laser light to penetrate the breast tissue. This causes a type of sound wave called photoacoustic waves to spread through the tissue. These waves can be measured by sensors surrounding the breast. Blood vessels react to the light differently, providing contrast that allows PACT to form clear images of the breast’s blood vessel network. This approach can be used to spot tumors because tumor growth depends on blood vessels.
The US Food and Drug Administration gave its approval to a 23andMe test that screens for a few breast and ovarian cancer genes, but that approval came with a number of caveats.
Many women with benign breast modules or slow-progressing cancer undergo needless procedures because current diagnostic methods cannot differentiate between harmful and benign tumors. An experimental new pill could change that.
After performing all of the tests, the researchers found CancerSEEK was best at detecting stage II or III cancers, primary tumors that haven’t metastasized but are getting large. However, it still detected 43 percent of early stage I cancers. The test also detected some cancers better than others. In fact, the panel almost never missed a case of ovarian or liver cancer. But it wasn’t as good in picking up colorectal, lung, and breast cancers.