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Building on basics

A gentler, more accurate mammogram?

“Tumor size is the most important variable in prognosis,” he says. “If we can detect cancers earlier, we can improve survival.

A respected medical physicist who has served as a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Army Breast Cancer Research Program, Boone has secured $6 million from the National Cancer Institute and the California Breast Cancer Research Program to construct and test the breast CT. He hopes to begin clinical testing in women volunteers late this year or early next year.

Mammograms are X-rays taken through all the layers of the breast at once. Denser breasts are especially hard to image clearly by mammography. CT scanning, in contrast, produces pictures of virtual slices of tissue — in the case of breast CT, 100 to 150 pictures per breast. The images are stunningly detailed, regardless of breast density.

Challenging assumptions
Computed tomography imaging is used every day to scan brains, lungs, abdomens and pelvises. But imaging experts long ago dismissed CT as impractical for breast screening, thinking it would require too much radiation.


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John Boone hopes to start testing his breast CT machine as early as this year.