Contrast-enhanced mammography to get rigorous tryout under ACR’s oversight

Women with dense breast tissue often face especially long wait times before finding out whether or not they have breast cancer. They’re also at heightened risk of false positives.

Might mammography enhanced by contrast media prove a surer, faster way than other modalities, including digital breast tomosynthesis, to get to a definitive diagnosis for these patients?

ACR is about to lead the way in finding out.

The organization announced Oct. 19 that it’s working with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and GE Healthcare to launch a study called the Contrast-Enhanced Mammography Imaging Screening Trial, or “CMIST.”

The trial’s objective is to learn if contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM) might top other imaging options on both sensitivity and specificity for women with dense breast tissue, the project’s principal investigator, Christopher Comstock, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center explains in the announcement.

Comstock expresses hope that CEM will help find “many cancers missed with our current methods.”

ACR describes CEM as a combination of mammography and vascular-based screening methods that can readily flag suspicious disruptions in blood flow.

The organization suggests the forthcoming study will build on early research pointing to CEM’s potential for becoming a go-to screening exam for the approximately 43% of women who have dense breast tissue.  

“Through CMIST, we hope to gain increased understanding of the potential role of contrast mammography for women with dense breasts with the goal of developing more individualized breast imaging strategies,” says ACR’s chief research officer, Etta Pisano, MD.

GE Healthcare’s GM for mammography, Catherine Lezy, says CEM technology “can be a game-changer in helping improve breast cancer outcomes. …  We hope that [CMIST] will help clinicians feel more confident in their diagnosis and help patients get the answers they deserve.”

Dorraya El-Ashry, PhD, chief scientific officer of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, adds that, given recently rising rates of breast cancer, “it is a key imperative to improve current diagnostic tools. We know that early detection is a key determinant of survival and improving diagnostic technology for women with dense breasts will undoubtedly save lives.”

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