UK project aims to enhance the detection and early diagnosis of breast cancer

A project designed to enhance the detection and early diagnosis of breast cancer whilst bringing down costs to health service providers is set to begin in Newcastle.

breast cancer

Funded with £1.4m from Innovate UK, the three-year programme will see Kromek, a Sedgefield-headquartered developer of radiation detection technologies, partner with Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to deliver a Low Dose Molecular Breast Imaging (LDMBI) technology.

The LDMBI will be based on Kromek’s CZT-based (Cadmium Zinc Telluride) SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) detectors.

In the first phase of the project, Kromek will utilise new developments in the company’s CZT-based SPECT detector technology to reduce the required dose of radiation in molecular breast imaging, a technology which uses a radioactive tracer to identify tumours.

In this imaging technique, the tracer is said to concentrate more in malignant breast tissue, allowing the tumour to be easily identified irrespective of breast density. By partnering with breast cancer experts at the Newcastle Hospitals for the development, the team will ensure that the technology is tuned to clinical and patient needs.

The LDMBI device will subsequently be used in a pilot study with the Newcastle Hospitals to demonstrate the clinical benefits of incorporating Kromek’s SPECT detectors.

Breast screening in the UK has so far relied principally on x-ray mammography, which is effective when there is a significant difference between the density of a cancer tumour and the surrounding breast tissue.

For over a third of women, their breast tissue is sufficiently dense that mammography is unable to clearly image tumours, resulting in undiagnosed cancers.

Dr Arnab Basu, CEO of Kromek, said: “This project is further evidence that CZT-based detectors are becoming a core technology in replacing legacy diagnostic products across the medical imaging sector.

“Our…SPECT detectors are capable of significantly lowering radiation doses, thereby offering cost savings for health services and, crucially, making enhanced detection and early diagnosis of breast cancer accessible on a much wider scale.”

Louise Robson, joint acting chief executive for the Newcastle Hospitals, said: “Providing patient care, which is safe and of the highest quality, is a key priority for us and by working collaboratively in this way we are able to ensure new, advanced treatments are as safe as they can be.”