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CANCER RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS
From the 50th AAPM Meeting in Houston, July 27 to July 31

3. HYBRID IMAGER COULD IMPROVE BREAST EXAMS

An integrated, multi-modality molecular imaging system, invented in 1999 by Martin Tornai, Associate Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering of Duke University, and developed by Priti Madhav (priti.madhav@duke.edu) and other of Tornai's grad students over the years, may improve detection, diagnosis and treatment monitoring of breast cancer, while also relieving some of the discomfort often associated with breast exams. The system allows subjects to lie prone while both a dedicated SPECT and CT scan are taken of the breast. Because these are three-dimensional imaging techniques, there is no need to compress the breast (often painfully) as is done during a two-dimensional mammography.

To generate the SPECT image, the nuclear medicine technologist injects the subject with a radio-tracer associated with metabolism. Cancer cells are more active than normal cells, so they take up more of the gamma-ray-emitting tracer. The SPECT camera detects this gamma ray emission and produces an image of the 3D distribution of metabolic activity. To help physically localize the source, a dedicated breast CT scan, also developed in Tornai's lab, with 0.5 millimeter resolution is obtained. When the two scans are fused together, the doctor has both functional (SPECT) and anatomical (CT) information in one picture. In a handful of patient imaging trials, the combined image highlighted cancerous cells that might have been missed in a CT scan by itself.

Although full body SPECT-CT already exists, this is the first dedicated SPECT-CT apparatus for breast imaging. The advantage of tailoring the machine to the breast is that the SPECT camera gets a better picture by being closer to the breast. Moreover, the CT scan is targeted, thus reducing the amount of radiation to other parts of the body. An added bonus is that the patient never has to move while the two scans are taken.

Talk (TU-C-332-04), "Pilot Patient Studies Using a Dedicated Dual-Modality SPECT-CT System for Breast Imaging" is at 10:36 a.m. on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 in room 332. Abstract: http://www.aapm.org/meetings/amos2/pdf/35-9680-20499-188.pdf.

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ABOUT AAPM

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) is a scientific, educational, and professional nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the application of physics to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. The association encourages innovative research and development, helps disseminate scientific and technical information, fosters the education and professional development of medical physicists, and promotes the highest quality medical services for patients. In 2008, AAPM will celebrate its 50th year of serving patients, physicians, and physicists. Please visit the association's Web site at http://www.aapm.org/.

ABOUT AIP

Headquartered in College Park, MD., the American Institute of Physics is a not-for-profit membership corporation chartered in New York State in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare.

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Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics,
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