UA health sciences awarded $3.6 million to develop new method to detect, diagnose breast cancer

In number value, according to Susan G. Komen, one in eight women have a risk of being diagnosed...
In number value, according to Susan G. Komen, one in eight women have a risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.((Source: KAIT-TV))
Published: Sep. 27, 2019 at 10:20 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Researchers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences are seeking a new and more accurate way to diagnose breast cancer.

Breast cancer affects about one in eight women in the United States.

The National Cancer Institute recently awarded a $3.6 million, five-year grant to advance the research of Andrew Karellas, PhD, DABR, FAAPM, FACR, and Srinivasan Vedantham, PhD, DABR, FAAPM, professors in the Department of Medical Imaging.

They share the same passion for detecting breast cancer at its earliest stage and the latest round of funding allows them to better identify cancerous tissue.

The Biomedical Imaging Innovation and Clinical Translation in Next-Gen CT – or BIG-CT – team will design, develop and clinically evaluate a new generation of breast-specific computerized tomography that will provide 3D images of breast tissue.

Their design alleviates the need for breast compression that often is painful for patients undergoing mammograms.

More than reducing patient discomfort with breast cancer screening, BIG-CT research aims to accurately estimate breast density – a known risk factor for breast cancer. The research team also is working to reduce false positives, which require additional exams and biopsies.

The UA researchers believe the 3D nature of their tomographic images will help them identify anything concerning and quickly allow doctors to determine whether the findings are malignant or noncancerous.

Drs. Karellas and Vedantham are the principal investigators; co-investigators include Kimberly Fitzpatrick, MD (medical imaging); Marisa Borders, MD (medical imaging); Leigh Neumayer, MD, MS, FACS (surgery); Denise Roe, DrPH (epidimeology and biostatistics); and Lauren LeBeau, MD (pathology).

Since their arrival at the UA in 2017, the professors, along with Hsin-Wu Tseng, PhD, have improved the methods for capturing images used for breast cancer imaging.

“The medical imaging research funded by this grant is an area of strength for the University of Arizona, and it is directly aligned with the new strategic plans for the university and the UA Health Sciences,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins, MD. “This research to develop new technology for breast cancer imaging, followed by a clinical trial, is a great example of how we should use the university’s strengths as an innovation powerhouse to create positive impact for patients, their families and communities around the world.”

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