Minute deposits of calcium in breast tissue act as a marker for breast cancer. Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy has now been used to show how deposits in benign conditions can be distinguished from those present in the early stages of the disease.
Microcalcification in breast tissue can be a sign of malignancy, but more often than not they are simply a residue of a benign condition. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Case Western Reserve University have turned to diffuse reflectance spectroscopy to help them develop a clinical approach that might help doctors distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous incidence of such deposits.
Mammography often reveals microcalcification causing concern for patients and requiring an invasive biopsy to test the tissue for malignancy. However obtaining tissue from the specific region containing the deposit is difficult and in 15 to 25 percent of cases impossible. This means an inconclusive test and requires follow-up with more invasive surgery.