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New Breast Cancer Detection Method Could Reduce Biopsies

Lawrence Livermore nuclear laboratory is developing a new diagnostic tool for breast cancer: a probe that uses beams of light to check lumps and could reduce unnecessary biopsies. Smart Probe uses a thin needle similar to those used in routine blood tests to send light into suspicious lumps; the light bounces off tissue, giving computer-displayed measurements of optical, electrical, and chemical properties that can be analyzed and compared with measurements of health and cancerous tissue to determine whether the lump is benign or malignant. Smart Probe could be used in a doctor’s office with little or no anesthesia, reducing the need for unnecessary biopsies. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center reports that 1.2 million women a year undergo biopsies, with between 75 and 80 percent of suspicious lumps discovered as benign.

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Associated Press _ January 21, 2001