Technology & Science

Ontario trial tests new breast cancer detection technology

A clinical trial in Ontario will test a new technology that aims to detect very small breast cancer tumours that may otherwise be missed.

A clinical trial in Ontario will test a new technology that aims to detect very small breast cancer tumours that may be missed by current screening.

The research project will be based in Hamilton, and will evaluate whether new molecular imaging probes detect tumours earlier than current tests.

The goal is to detect a tumour at an early stage, when it can be removed.

"These technologies may have a significant impact on care for high-risk patients whose tiny tumours cannot be seen by mammography," said Dr. Tom Hudson, president and scientific director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

"We hope this will lead to earlier detection, better treatment and, ultimately, save lives."

The probes are chemical compounds that are given by IV injection. Like a homing beacon, the probes seek out breast cancer and emit a signal that can be detected, said John Valliant, scientific director of the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization.

The test takes about 20 minutes and involves minimal compression of the breast, Valliant said.

Researchers are awaiting approval from Health Canada to conduct the trial, which they hope to begin by the end of the year.

Each year in Ontario, 8,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. When localized breast cancer is caught at an early stage, the survival rate is 98 per cent, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The research project has received $450,000 from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences and GE Healthcare are participating in the project.