Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Diagnosis Could Reduce Number of Misdiagnoses

On Sunday, March 30, physicians and engineers at Dartmouth College released new findings for a technique that combines MRI with optical scanning to more accurately locate breast cancer tumors, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Physicians at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center and engineers from Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering worked to develop a new, simpler method of breast-conserving surgery for women whose breast cancer is too small to be felt, the Union Leader reported.

Breast cancer continues to be a major health concern. It has been on the rise since the 1970s — and since 2000, rates have increased at an increasing rate every year.

This new method of breast cancer tumor detection is “similar to a car’s GPS,” the Norris Cotton Cancer Center said in a release. “The uploaded maps would be the MRI, and the optical scan provides the ‘you are here’ arrow for the surgeon. This more accurate picture of the tumor location and its edges allows for a more precise surgical excision.”

Ideally, this method could also be used in a diagnostic manner to prevent the misdiagnosis of breast cancer. Misdiagnoses are a major problem — according to a National Institutes of Health study, women who begin having regular mammograms at age 40 have a higher than 61% chance of being falsely diagnosed with breast cancer.

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to prevent breast cancer. However, with regular screenings and proper diagnoses, breast cancer can be detected in its earliest stages and lives can be saved. A March 26 Reuters article also says that one’s risk for breast cancer decreases significantly when a healthy lifestyle is adopted early in life.

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