Since most breast cancer deaths are due to progressive invasive disease, the ability to detect and treat pre-invasive lesions appropriately is an important public health problem. Our invention has enabled the development of a Positron Emission Mammography (PEM) imaging system which will change physicians' ability to characterize the aggressiveness of pre-invasive breast cancers as candidates for stronger therapy, thus avoiding the more expensive treatment of patients with potentially metastatic disease.
We have developed a clinical prototype of a high-resolution, high-sensitivity PEM system based on our patent-pending solid-state PEM detector technology that allows construction of a full-size detector for simultaneous image acquisition of the entire breast. The detector head consists of a 2D array of specially designed tileable detector blocks that are seamlessly combined to achieve full coverage of an entire breast without gaps and dead zones. This means that less radiation will escape the device enabling high-resolution, low-dose molecular breast imaging.
Our innovation improves spatial resolution, sensitivity and deep tumor detectability in comparison with available breast-dedicated nuclear medicine imagers, while simultaneously allowing for a significant reduction of the radiation dose typically associated with PEM imaging. As a result, the proposed PEM technology can be used as (1) an adjuvant technique for breast cancer detection for cases when x-ray examination is suspicious but inconclusive; and (2) an integral part of the surveillance protocol for women at high and intermediate lifetime risk of breast cancer for whom conventional x-ray mammography is inefficient because of the radiologically dense breast tissue.
Clinical use of our PEM system will allow large cohorts of patients to benefit from a personalized approach for breast cancer detection and improved diagnosis alleviating the uncertainty from anatomical breast imaging and reducing unnecessary breast biopsies.