Breast cancer

Updated 09 February 2015

A better, less painful way to screen breasts

Painful mammograms, which for decades have been the best way to screen a woman's breast for signs of cancer, may soon be replaced by cone beam breast CT technology which takes 3-D images of the breast. It's could help doctors find hidden tumours and better diagnose cancers with minimal discomfort to the woman.


Koning Corporation, a leading developer of advanced medical imaging systems announced that the FDA has approved their Koning Breast CT (KBCT) system and KBCT-guided biopsy bracket. KBCT is intended to provide three-dimensional (3D) images for diagnostic imaging of the breast.

"This FDA approval represents a major step forward for breast imaging and women's health care," said Ruola Ning, PhD, Koning's President and Founder, a pioneer and leading expert in Cone Beam CT Technology and sole inventor of cone beam breast CT technology. "KBCT represents a revolutionary advancement in breast cancer diagnosis. 

Breast cancer is a growing worldwide women's health issue impacting hundreds of thousands of women.
KBCT is the first ever commercially available, 3D breast CT scanner designed specifically to image the entire breast with a single scan without compression of the breast tissue. The system acquires hundreds of images in ten seconds producing 'true' 3D images allowing a fast procedure with excellent patient comfort. 

Optional accessories for  KBCT include a biopsy bracket to enable KBCT-guided breast biopsies of suspicious lesions, and a collimator which is used to limit the x-ray beam to the area of interest.  The biopsy bracket provides 3D targeting at comparable or lower radiation exposure compared to stereotactic guided biopsy.

Read: How breast cancer is diagnosed

In a September 2014 FDA Consumer Health Information "3D Technologies Poised to Change How Doctors Diagnose Cancer" FDA reported that thanks to the regulatory work being done by a team of scientists at FDA that soon, three-dimensional (3D) images in actual 3D might help your doctor find hidden tumors and better diagnose cancers.

The article indicated that:  for patients, the (breast CT) procedure is more comfortable than regular mammography because the breast isn't compressed. Also, there's less radiation exposure than during a CT exam of the entire chest because only the breast is exposed to X-rays.

The (breast CT) images have less distortion than mammography, and the system is optimised to differentiate between the breast's soft tissue and cancer tissue.  These images will be very different from 2D mammograms.

Watch: The benefits of the Koning Breast CT and how it is performed

They're truly 3D images of the entire breast from any orientation. You can scroll through the slices (up and down, left and right) and get a unique view of the breast like never before.  It gives doctors tremendous freedom in how they look at the interior of the breast and evaluate its structures.  It's almost like seeing the anatomy itself.

Over 680 patient scans on KBCT were conducted at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care (Rochester, New York). "The results we have seen with 3D-KBCT have been remarkable compared to 2D imaging and there is no compression of the tissue making Breast CT a much more comfortable and painless procedure for women. I believe that 3D-KBCT will likely play a major role for multiple applications in breast imaging," Dr. Pisano said.  

So far KBCT has been approved for sale in Canada, Australia, and the European Union.

Read more:

Netcare brings Hologic’s 3D technology to Tswane hospitals to screen for breast cancer using the Selenia Dimensions machine
The Dutch are working on a less painful mammograph
Gel eases mammogram pain


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Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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