September 7, 2010
Gambling On Breast Scans
A mathematical tool known as a Monte Carlo analysis could help improve the way X-rays are used for mammography and reduce the number of breast cancers missed by the technique as well as avoiding false positives, according to research published this month in the International Journal of Low Radiation.
Worldwide, breast cancer represents one in ten of all cancers among women, with the exception of skin cancer, making it the most common form of non-skin cancer. It is the fifth most common cause of cancer death accounting for more than half a million deaths worldwide. The main established strategies for breast cancer control are based on primary prevention along with early diagnosis and so breast imaging, mammography, plays an important role in screening and diagnosis.
The team points out that factors such as the material used for the positive electrode, the anode, in the X-ray machine, are beyond the control of the radiographer. However, the accelerating voltage applied during mammography significantly affects image quality. The team points out that the algorithm they have developed from their Monte Carlo calculations might also be used to carry out reliable and consistent detection of cancerous tissue in the breast automatically.
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