Elastography reduces unnecessary breast biopsies

Nov 30, 2009

Elastography is an effective, convenient technique that, when added to breast ultrasound, helps distinguish cancerous breast lesions from benign results, according to an ongoing study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

When mammography yields suspicious findings, physicians often use ultrasound to obtain additional information. However, ultrasound has the potential to result in more biopsies because of its relatively low specificity, or inability to accurately distinguish cancerous lesions from benign ones. Approximately 80 percent of breast lesions biopsied turn out to be benign, according to the American Cancer Society.

"There's a lot of room to improve specificity with ultrasound, and elastography can help us do that," said the study's lead author, Stamatia V. Destounis, M.D., a diagnostic radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, a large, community-based breast imaging center in Rochester, N.Y. "It's an easy way to eliminate for something that's probably benign."

Elastography improves ultrasound's specificity by utilizing conventional to measure the compressibility and mechanical properties of a lesion. Since cancerous tumors tend to be stiffer than surrounding healthy tissue or cysts, a more compressible lesion on elastography is less likely to be malignant.

"You can perform elastography at the same time as handheld ultrasound and view the images on a split screen, with the two-dimensional ultrasound image on the left and the elastography image on the right," Dr. Destounis said.

As part of the ongoing study, 179 patients underwent breast ultrasound and elastography. The research team obtained 184 elastograms and performed biopsies on all solid lesions. Of 134 biopsies, 56 revealed cancer. Elastography properly identified 98 percent of lesions that had malignant findings on biopsy, and 82 percent of lesions that turned out to be benign. Elastography was also more accurate than ultrasound in gauging the size of the lesions.

"Ultrasound can underestimate the true size of lesions, as it only sees the actual mass and not the surrounding changes the mass may cause," Dr. Destounis said.

In 2009, there will be an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, along with about 62,280 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ, a noninvasive, early form of breast cancer.

Coauthors are Andrea L. Arieno, B.S., Melissa N. Skolny, M.S., Renee Morgan, R.T., Patricia Somerville, M.D., and Philip F. Murphy, M.D.

Also at RSNA 2009, Dr. Smitha Putturaya, M.D., F.R.C.R., presented findings from an ongoing, seven-year study on breast elastography conducted at the Charing Cross Hospital Breast Unit in London, U.K. Dr. Putturaya and colleagues found that using elastography as an adjunct to routine ultrasound safely decreases the number of biopsies of benign lesions and offers the potential to map tumors more precisely.

Source: Radiological Society of North America (news : web)

Explore further: Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

3-D doppler ultrasound helps identify breast cancer

Oct 21, 2008

Three-dimensional (3-D) power Doppler ultrasound helps radiologists distinguish between malignant and benign breast masses, according to a new study being published in the November issue of Radiology.

Recommended for you

Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

3 hours ago

(AP)—Stop sunbathing and using indoor tanning beds, the acting U.S. surgeon general warned in a report released Tuesday that cites an alarming 200 percent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.

Penn team makes cancer glow to improve surgical outcomes

3 hours ago

The best way to cure most cases of cancer is to surgically remove the tumor. The Achilles heel of this approach, however, is that the surgeon may fail to extract the entire tumor, leading to a local recurrence.

Cancer: Tumors absorb sugar for mobility

15 hours ago

Cancer cells are gluttons. We have long known that they monopolize large amounts of sugar. More recently, it became clear that some tumor cells are also characterized by a series of features such as mobility or unlikeliness ...

User comments : 0