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Technique May Lead to Less Breast Cancer Surgery

A new scanning procedure has been developed that may result in less surgery for women with breast cancer. Doctors from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, developed the new procedure that checks lymph nodes for malignancy.

“Pictures are taken twice over 24 hours using a gamma camera and a computer then compares the two images showing the probability of a tumor being there,” said Dr. Keith Britton, head of the ICRF Nuclear Medicine Unit.

“If a node is positive it can be removed and looked at by pathology to double check if cancer is present. That way we can tell women in advance how extensive their breast cancer is going to be,” said Britton.

Cancer patients currently have to undergo painful surgery to remove lymph nodes to be checked for spreading cancer.

A study published in the British Journal of Cancer showed the new technique to be 90 percent correct in predicting the spread of cancer. The most common form of cancer among women, one in 12 will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.

Sources:

Reuters - February 2, 1998

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