A new technique using three-dimensional (3-D) Doppler ultrasound could be a powerful tool in diagnosing breast cancer. The new technique is believed to be able to distinguish between benign and malignant tumors so effectively that in many cases biopsies would be unnecessary.
A 3-D Doppler scan produces an image of one’s body of tissue and blood vessel structure, from all conceivable angles. This image could indicate cancerous regions that were previously unidentifiable without performing a biopsy. “Using 3-D scans promises greater accuracy due to more consistent sampling over the entire tumor,” states lead author Dr. Gerald LeCarpentier.
More specifically, as with most malignant tumors, cancerous “breast masses” demonstrate increased blood flow, which is observable through a 3-D Doppler image. Also, regions with normal blood flows can be eliminated as potentially cancerous. “Using speed-weighted 3-D power Doppler ultrasound, higher flow velocities in the malignant tumor-feeding vessels may be detected, whereas vessels with slower flow velocities in surrounding benign masses may be excluded,” says Dr. LeCarpentier.
To confirm this hypothesis, a study was conducted on 78 women scheduled to undergo biopsies on breast tumors. 3-D Doppler scans were conducted and analyzed prior to biopsy. The results showed that the Doppler scans identified malignant tumors to 100% accuracy, and eliminated benign tumors to 86% accuracy. These are very promising numbers, and this nun-intrusive technique may become standard practice for cancer diagnosis in the near future.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: LeCarpentier, Gerald. Brooks, Linda. Radiology news release. October 2008.