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NIH-funded study finds new way to detect early breast cancer

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A National Institutes of Health-funded study published Wednesday says researchers have found a way to detect recurrent breast cancer in its early stages.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University found they could detect fast-growing cancerous tumors using magnetic resonance imaging, or an MRI, and a special contrast solution.

“The approach may offer an improved way to detect early recurrence of breast cancer in women and men,” the NIH said about the study, which was funded through federal grants.

{mosads}Right now, MRIs cannot be used to detect specific types of cancer or early cancer growth, the NIH said.

One of the professors that led the study, Zheng-Rong Lu, said the new approach could allow doctors to differentiate aggressive tumors from those that are low-risk.

“We showed with this technique that we can detect very tiny tumors of just a few hundred cells,” Lu said, adding that the technique “potentially can make a big impact on clinical practice and also management of cancer.”

The NIH said breast cancer has a high rate of spreading to the bones, the lungs, the liver, lymph nodes and the brain.

The team of researchers plans to complete safety testing over the next three years and then start human trials. 

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