A new breast screening technology that may be able to detect tumors earlier than mammography
without the need for uncomfortable breast compression is being tested in patients at UC Davis Medical
"We think this technology may allow radiologists to routinely detect breast tumors the size of a
small pea," said John M. Boone, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at UC Davis and
the machine's developer. "In contrast, mammography detects tumors that are about the size of a garbanzo
Unlike mammography, in which the breast is squeezed between two plates, the breast CT machine requires
no breast compression. The patient lies face down on a padded table. The table has a circular opening
in it, through which the patient places one breast at a time. A CT machine under the table scans each
breast. The screening takes about 17 seconds per breast.
Boone and his colleagues are testing the new technology in a clinical trial that will enroll about 190
patients. If the trial confirms that breast CT detects tumors as well as mammography, the next step will
be a larger trial to determine whether the new technology can indeed detect tumors earlier than mammography.
Boone believes that a more extensive trial could be under way within two to three years.
The breast CT project was funded by $6 million in grants from the California Breast Cancer Research Program,
the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.