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Breast Reconstruction

Promising Advances in Breast Cancer X-Ray Scans

When caught early enough, breast cancer can be very treatable for women in San Diego. And while breast reconstruction continues to be an option for cases that are caught later on, ideally, every case would be treated early enough to limit the need for a mastectomy in the first place.

However, finding cancer in breast tissue is challenging. The best way to find abnormalities is by viewing high-resolution, three-dimensional images known as computed tomography scans, or CT scans. Yet, CT scans deliver far too much radiation to the sensitive breast tissue, an area of the body that remains very susceptible to the radiation levels in X-rays. The mammograms that are used instead are safer for breast tissue, but the scans are not as detailed. It’s a Catch-22 in many ways, but hope may be on the horizon.

New Technology

A research team is now suggesting that a different type of X-ray, combined with a new approach to image analysis, may be more effective than mammograms, while still only delivering 4 percent of the radiation dosage seen in typical CT scans. This will allow earlier diagnosis, and more effective early treatments. If enough compact X-ray sources can be produced to make this technology widely available, plastic surgeons in the San Diego area will likely see a huge reduction in breast reconstruction needed after mastectomies or lumpectomies.

Changes in Surgery

Reducing the rates of breast cancer simply by adapting new technology would be an amazing breakthrough in the medical profession. For a number of women, breast implant surgery will no longer be necessary to reconstruct the profile following a mastectomy. Instead, non-surgical treatment options like radiation or chemotherapy can be utilized to kill the cancer while it’s small. The potential for improvement in quality of life for these women is incredibly hopeful and exciting.

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January 5, 2013
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