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CAD software 'does not aid mammogram accuracy'

Thursday 28th July 2011
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Using computer-aided detection (CAD) software does not improve the accuracy of mammograms, according to a new study.

CAD software is commonly used to identify patterns associated with breast cancer and detect potential abnormalities to be considered by the radiologist.

Research published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, discovered that CAD was associated with more false positive diagnoses and did not improve the detection of invasive cancers.

In addition, the cancers identified using the software were not more likely to be smaller, at a lower stage of have less lymph node involvement that those detected not using the technology.

Authors wrote: "CAD appears to increase a woman's risk of being recalled for further testing after screening mammography while yielding equivocal health benefit."

In another breast cancer study, women whose breast appear dense on mammograms were seen to have a higher risk of developing the condition than those with less dense breasts.

Risk of breast cancer was seen to increase progressively with increasing breast density.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute also found that dense breasts were linked to certain aggressive characteristics of the cancer.

However, authors noted that this association could be due in part to a masking effect.

"Masking of a tumor can occur because cancerous tissue and mammographically dense tissue have similar x-ray attenuation, allowing tumors to go undetected on screening mammography examination and progress to a more advanced and aggressive stage before detection," they wrote.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins scientists investigated why some breast cancer cells become resistant to medication tamoxifen.

According to the paper in journal Human Molecular Genetics, the increased activity from the RET gene in breast cancer cells is linked to more aggressive and tamoxifen-resistant forms of the disease.

The authors believe these findings could have implications for usage of the drug among breast cancer patients.

Written by Angela Newbury

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