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Phys Med Biol. 2003 Jul 21;48(14):2217-28.

Why should breast tumour detection go three dimensional?

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Department of Radiology, University of Rochester, Box 648, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Although x-ray mammography is widely developed for breast tumour detection, it suffers from spatial superposition in its two-dimensional (2D) representation of a three-dimensional (3D) breast structure. Accordingly, 3D breast imaging, such as cone-beam computed tomography (CT), arises at the historic moment. In this paper, we theoretically elucidate the spatial superposition effect associated with x-ray mammography on breast tumour detection. This explanation is based on the line integral of x-ray traversing a composite breast model. As a result, we can characterize the difficulty of detecting small tumours in terms of local intensity contrast in x-ray images. In comparison, we also introduce cone-beam CT breast imaging for 3D breast volume representation, which offers advantages for breast mass segmentation and measurement. The discussion is demonstrated with an experiment with a breast surgical specimen. In conclusion, we strongly believe that 3D volumetric representation allows for more accurate breast tumour detection.

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