GE unveils new spectral mammography technology for breast cancer diagnosis





GE Healthcare introduced the SenoBright Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM) technology, to detect and diagnose breast cancer more rapidly and accurately, even in the densest part of the breast tissue.

It uses X-rays at multiple energies to create two separate exposures. These resulting images specifically illuminate and highlight areas where there is angiogenesis, growth of small blood vessels potentially related to the presence of cancer.

The diagnostic challenge

SenoBright enables the digital mammography system to detect a whole new type of diagnostic information. Standard mammography only sees the structure of breast tissue. With SenoBright, doctors can also locate the proliferation of small blood vessels, potentially associated with cancerous tumour growth.

In addition, it shows potential for measuring the extension of the lesion to help to plan surgery and treatment. Patients receive an intravenous injection of standard iodine contrast agent, and after two minutes undergo a five-minute digital mammography exam. CESM images are acquired in familiar mammography views so that that they can be quickly and easily correlated with standard results, facilitating interpretation by other specialists like surgeons or oncologists.

"A CESM exam takes from 5 to 10 minutes," said Dr. Clarisse Dromain, Gustave Roussy Cancer Institute, France. “During my investigation of the use of CESM with my own examinations of patients, I have been able to better define the spread of a cancer compared to standard mammography and ultrasound, and follow-up exams with an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) validated exactly the same results. Moreover, in the majority of cases the confidence in the diagnosis is high enough that the patient can be told the results that same day,” she added.

Reinaldo Garcia, President and CEO of GE Healthcare for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said, “GE Healthcare is pleased to bring to market such advanced breast imaging technologies like SenoBright, the result of over 10 years and $12 million investment of research and clinical collaborations. This innovative technology will support the earlier diagnosis of this prevalent disease, by providing access to new diagnostic information at a lower cost.”

The product development was carried out in collaboration between GE Healthcare and Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). The goal of the joint research program is to develop new and innovative technologies for aiding in the diagnosis of breast cancer using the latest developments in digital mammography.

Dr Tidu Maini, Science and Technology Advisor to Her Highness, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, and Executive Chairman of Qatar Science & Technology Park, said, “Our collaboration with GE Healthcare is a step towards making Qatar a global medical innovator while delivering real health benefits for the local community.”

Same staff, same equipment — same day

SenoBright is an easy procedure that can be conducted by the same staff, using the same mammography equipment, potentially on the same day as the exam — allowing medical professionals to cut the critical time patients often have to wait from detection to diagnosis.

David Caumartin, GE Healthcare’s General Manager Mammography, said, “SenoBright is likely to be a key enabler of accelerated patient workflow from diagnostics to treatment planning. It is enhancing the widely accepted technology of digital mammography by adding the functional information in order to detect angiogenesis.”

Clarity of results

Digital mammography is considered a relevant means of breast cancer screening, delivering proven clinical outcomes. The sensitivity and specificity of images can, however, be affected by a range of factors. Dense breast tissue can overlap with lesions, which are not always visible on an X-ray, and radiologists’ interpretation of images can vary.

Inconclusive digital mammography presents a range of challenges to healthcare professionals and patients. Ambiguity can result in diagnostic error, demanding further tests that can include ultrasound, invasive biopsy and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning — all of which could delay the diagnostic process, in some cases by weeks or even months.

SenoBright can remove this ambiguity, helping to ensure that those patients who need to go into cancer treatment do so — and do so quickly. Whereas patients who do not have malignant lesions have the potential to find out on the same day, relieving their burden of uncertainty.

“The addition of intravenous contrast to mammography gives us the possibility to obtain information in the mammogram that was previously only obtained from MRI,” said Dr. David Dershaw, Director of Breast Imaging at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, USA. “This has the potential to convey the advantages of MRI imaging in screening and diagnosis to women for whom this test is indicated but not currently available.”

The new CESM technology works with an upgrade to GE Healthcare’s Senographe DS and Senographe Essential digital mammography equipment. GE’s Senographe platforms are full-field digital mammography systems designed to meet clinical needs, from screening to diagnostic and interventional procedures and designed for future advanced applications.