Diagnosing breast cancer using red light
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IMAGE: Schematic Diagram for OM Instrument: Seven pulsed lasers sequentially illuminate the compressed breast; transmitted light is detected by the 8-channel SiPM probe and the TDC acquires the signal. view more 

Credit: Edoardo Ferocino

HOLLYWOOD, FL — Optical Mammography, or OM, which uses harmless red or infrared light, has been developed for use in conjunction with X-rays for diagnosis or monitoring in cases demanding repeated imaging where high amounts of ionizing radiation should be avoided. At the OSA Biophotonics Congress: Biomedical Optics meeting, held 3-6 April in Hollywood, Florida, USA, researchers from Milan, Italy, will report an advance in instrument development that increases the sensitivity of OM by as much as 1000-fold.

In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, more than 1.7 million women worldwide were diagnosed with breast cancer. Many of these diagnoses are made using X-ray mammography. Although standard and widely used, X-ray imaging for breast cancer suffers from both low sensitivity (50-75%) and the use of ionizing radiation that cannot be considered completely safe.

The newly-developed instrument replaces two photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) of existing instruments with an eight-channel probe involving silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) and a multichannel time-to-digital converter. These changes eliminate a

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