New Tool to Diagnose and Treat Breast Cancer

Computer enhanced breast MRI
© Florida Atlantic University

The technique was developed at the Center for Diagnostics Systems and Visualization, under the direction of Dr. Heinz-Otto Peitgen, who is also a faculty member in the department of mathematical sciences at Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Peitgen used the mathematical concept of fractals to begin developing this unique software. “Fractals are large, irregular geometric patterns made up of infinitely smaller, but identical, irregular patterns,” said Peitgen. “Fractal theory provided an appropriate platform upon which to build the software program because the ducts within human breast tissue have fractal properties.”

A recent study spearheaded by Dr. Kathy Schilling, medical director of Imaging and Intervention at the Center for Breast Care at the Women’s Center at Boca Raton Community Hospital, showed that in over 30 percent of patients there were additional tumours in the same breast, and in almost ten percent of the patients there were tumours in the opposite breast. “These tumours were not found using mammography or ultrasound,” said Schilling. The study showed that MRI directed biopsies using computational clinical imaging led to definitive conclusions, demonstrating the clinical utility of this unique approach.

According to Dr. Roger Goldwyn, faculty member in FAU’s department of mathematical sciences and director of the proposed Center for the Development of Computational Clinical Imaging at FAU, “Our approach is to use innovative image-processing tools to find additional tumours and to help determine patient management outcomes. These techniques have also led to biopsies directed by these image-processing tools, surgical planning modifications, and monitoring effectiveness of chemotherapy.”; Source: Florida Atlantic University