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Could a Pill Help Detect Breast Cancer?

Women eventually face the yearly ritual of the mammogram, usually suggested from age 50 onwards. It’s not painful, though notoriously uncomfortable, as two plates flatten the breasts, pancake-like, to get the best possible picture. The radiologist then looks at x-ray images for opaque spots that can indicate tumors.

Mammography has been used since the late 1960s and is considered the gold standard for breast cancer detection. But it’s far from perfect. The method misses about 1 in 5 cancers, and about half of women screened annually for 10 years will have a false positive result, often resulting in anxiety and unnecessary biopsies. Mammograms are also unable to distinguish slow-growing cancers from aggressive ones, which is necessary when choosing a course of treatment.

But researchers at the University of Michigan are working on a new method of breast cancer detection they hope could complement—perhaps one day even replace—the mammogram. It’s a pill—patients swallow it and it makes tumors light up when exposed to infrared light. The pill could not only detect tumors, it could also potentially distinguish how aggressive they are.

To read the full article, click HERE

(photo by Evan Dougherty)

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