New Breast-Imaging Technique May Reduce Unnecessary Biopsies

Three-compartment breast (3CB) imaging is a new technique that could improve detection of breast cancer.

by Dr. C.H. Weaver M.D. 12/2018

According to Dr. Karen Drukker and colleagues from the University of Chicago a new breast-image analysis technique may help reduce unnecessary breast biopsies, and patient anxiety.

The new technique is called three-compartment breast (3CB) imaging. 3CB uses non-contrast dual-energy mammography to determine evaluate the composition of biological tissue composition. It can separate water, lipid, and protein components of a suspicious breast mass which helps determine which lesions are more likely to be cancerous.

The University of Chicago doctors reported the results of 109 women with suspicious breast masses that they evaluated with dual-energy mammography. Biopsy results confirmed that of the 35 masses were invasive cancers and 74 were benign.

3CB images were derived from the mammograms and analyzed along with mammography radiomics, a method that uses artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze features and patterns in images. Combing 3CB image analysis and mammography radiomics improved the ability to predict cancer in breast masses deemed suspicious by the radiologist.

The combined method improved the positive predictive value (PPV) from 32% for visual interpretation alone to 49%, with 36% fewer total biopsies. The 3CB-radiomics method missed one of the 35 cancers, for a 97% sensitivity rate.

According to Dr. Drukker "Because 3CB imaging can be performed with conventional mammography or breast tomosynthesis equipment with minimal changes in workflow and minor modifications, and with only a 10% higher dose, the potential exists for wide application of 3CB imaging in diagnostic breast imaging and perhaps also in screening," the team writes.

"Our study showed that more investigation into the application of 3CB imaging is warranted, and we have initiated a research study incorporating 3CB imaging into breast tomosynthesis."