Clinical Tests Reveal Potential Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Detection

Clinical Trials to Begin at GW Hospital in January 2001

Initial clinical tests indicate that a promising new imaging device, the Dilon 6800 gamma camera, may potentially revolutionize how doctors detect breast cancer. In clinical trials, the Dilon 6800 was able to detect what are currently the hardest-to-find cancers — non-palpable cancers and cancers smaller than 1 cm. Compared with current gamma camera technology, Dilon's scans were able to detect smaller cancers and those in portions of the breast not well imaged with the currently available technology. This technology may allow women with a family history of breast cancer to receive valuable cancer-detecting scans at a much earlier age, enabling doctors to detect breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages, perhaps saving lives in the process.

Dr. Rachel Brem, director of breast imaging and intervention at The George Washington University Hospital evaluated Dilon's high-resolution gamma camera during clinical tests at Johns Hopkins University. "With the improved resolution and the ability to image in positions similar to mammography, as well as the ability to localize and biopsy areas of increased focal uptake," she says, "it will be hard to envision a comprehensive breast care center without this technology."

More mobile and versatile than current gamma cameras, the new device has a flexible arm that can be placed right next to the woman's chest, minimizing the distance between the breast and imaging receptor and helping to provide maximum resolution for suspect breast regions.

Dr. Brem will begin clinical trials at GW using the Dilon Technology. One study will evaluate 300 high risk females and the second will include 100 patients whose clinical or mammographic findings warrant further evaluation. Volunteers are needed to participate in the trials, expected to run for three years, beginning January 2001.

The detector on the Dilon 6800 was developed at the Jefferson Laboratory, in conjunction with Dilon Technologies, in Newport News, Virginia.

For more information about Dilon or the GW Clinical Trials and to volunteer in the trial, please contact Dr. Rachel Brem at 202-994-8370 or radrfb@gwumc.edu.