Queensland scientists are helping radiologists to spot the more subtle signs of breast cancer, using computer tools and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Currently MRI allows radiologists to detect lumps or other growths by creating a 3D anatomical image of the breast.
Prof Stuart Crozier and his team at the University of Queensland have developed a computer tool that improves MRI detection by spotting more subtle indicators of cancer.
“When cancers are just starting to form, they form abnormal blood vessels very early, to feed their rapid cell division,” Stuart says.
“By seeing how certain contrast agents move through the tissue, we can pick up the formation of these blood vessels.”
This works towards solving two issues with conventional MRIs.
First, it should reduce the number of false positive results and therefore the number of women put through biopsies of benign tumours.
Second, this should catch tumours earlier, not just when tumours are big enough to discern visually.
“The goal is to assist radiologists to identify areas of cancer risk that may not be obvious on conventional images,” Stuart says.
Stuart, a Fellow of the Australian Academy for Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), was recently presented with a 2012 Clunies Ross Award for his contributions to the engineering of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.
The research, funded as an Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project, is now undergoing trials with 140 women at private radiology firm Queensland X-ray.