New Breast Scan Beats Mammogram

Uses near-infrared rays to illuminate tumors and sort benign from malignant
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2007 12:58 PM CDT
A woman undergoes a mammogram.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – A new type of breast scan promises to pick up the tumors mammograms often miss and to distinguish between benign and malignant masses—without surgery. The technology relies on harmless near-infrared light to illuminate the masses, which glow when exposed to a particular chemical combination.

"We can target these malignant cells with a high degree of specificity, and that has the potential to improve the patient's outcome," says Dr. John Frangioni of Harvard Medical School. Docs hope the technique will help catch cancer in women whose dense tissue makes traditional X-ray technology less effective, but it's still is several years away from human trials.