Better Measures of Breast Density Sought

PHILADELPHIA, July 19 (UPI) — U.S. researchers are looking for better measures of breast density, an indicator of cancer risk.

Medical physicists at the University of California, Irvine, say more accurate measures of breast density — or the relative portion of glandular tissue to fat in a woman’s breasts — can help in breast cancer risk assessment and may lead to better discernment of cancers, since glandular tissue can obscure tumors.


The physicists found two existing techniques for measuring breast density — cone-beam computed axial tomography and breast magnetic resonance imaging — give highly similar estimates of breast density. However, they suggest a third technique, called dual-energy mammography, may show promise of becoming a gold-standard method for measuring density.

Researcher Justin Ducote says duel-energy X-ray imaging uses digital mammograms in which overlapping tissue signals are isolated and quantified by exploiting the change in X-ray attenuation at different energies.

“A better measure of breast density should yield a more accurate assessment of risk for developing breast cancer,” Ducote says in a statement.

In Ducote’s study, the research applied dual energy mammography to 20 pairs of post-mortem breasts.

The findings were presented at the 52nd annual meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in Philadelphia.

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