Dr Ashton Peters from the University of Canterbury talks about one of the major challenges in imaging breast cancer – the chest wall.
Tumours that are located deep within the breast tissue near the boundary between the breast and the chest have always presented a challenge. These tumours have always been very difficult to detect, using either mammograms or by manual examination. The DIET team hopes that this is where their new method will have an advantage over existing techniques.
DR ASHTON PETERS
One of the major challenges that we will have when we move to real data from actual breasts is the case where you have tumours very close to the chest wall, very deep within the breast and it’s that boundary between the breast and the chest wall where some tumours do occur, and they’re traditionally the tumours that are very difficult to detect, things like mammograms struggle to detect these tumours because they’re so deep, and obviously manual breast examination struggles as well because they’re difficult to find. So when we are looking at the issue of tumours that are close to the chest wall, that are deep within the breast there is a possibility that this DIET technique may work better than other methods because for example a breast self exam, if the tumour is deep and can't be felt then there’s absolutely no way that it can be detected. Similarly with a mammogram, if you can't pull that area of the chest wall within the mammogram region, the x-ray region, you will never see what’s there. Our method while we don't know that it will have an advantage, there’s a possibility that because we’re sending waves in from the surface, we may be able to detect how those waves interact with a tumour or a healthy chest wall, and there may be a way that using our technique with a surface motion we can detect changes that are deeper within the breast than other methods.
Patrick J. Lynch and Dr C.Carle Jaffe