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New Method Combines X-rays with Harmless Red Light for Improved Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A new advance in optical mammography, coupling harmless red or infrared light with X-rays, increases the sensitivity of the approach for breast cancer diagnosis and monitoring by up to 1,000 times, researchers say.

Italian researchers introduced the innovative device at the OSA Biophotonics Congress: Biomedical Optics meeting, held April 3-6 in Hollywood, Florida.

The majority of breast cancer diagnoses are made with X-ray mammography, but this method has limited sensitivity — only 50 to 75 percent of patients with a breast tumor are correctly identified as such — and because it uses ionizing radiation, it’s not without risk. X-ray mammography is also limited by factors such as a patient’s age and body mass index or weight, as well as the use of hormone replacement therapy.

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