This year, 200,000 women in the U.S. will be told they have breast cancer. Proper diagnosis and treatment are vital for survival. Now, researchers have developed a new software program that could help doctors better identify and treat this common cancer.
There’s nothing Linda Dill loves more than beating her husband in a game of pool, but in the game of life, she is battling a much tougher opponent — breast cancer.
“I had two tumors in my lymph nodes under my arm, and one in my breast,” says Dill. Her eight rounds of chemotherapy will be followed by surgery and radiation. “I never took a negative attitude,” she says. “I really did believe that I was going to be cured. I still do believe it.”
Now, a new software program is helping Dill get closer to her goal. Doctors use the program to track tumors and monitor the progress of treatment.
“With this particular software, we can rotate it at will and decide what we want to do, and where we want to look,” says Richard Reitherman, M.D., Ph.D., a radiologist at Orange Coast Memorial Hospital in Fountain Valley, Calif.
The process begins when patients get an MRI scan of the breast. Then, the program uses a mathematical formula to convert the images to color and 3-D.
“If the patient has new chemotherapy, she can watch her tumor melt away,” Dr. Reitherman says.
Unlike 2-D mammogram images, these 3-D images show doctors exactly where the tumor sits in the breast. Being able to see the tumor from every angle also helps doctors plan treatment and surgery with more accuracy. Patients say they love the results, too.
“To actually be able to see the result, and know that the treatment is really working, really helps me continue on,” Dill says.
With her family there to support her, Dill plans to persevere for a long time.