Fischer Imaging Corporation announced Monday that it has received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the National Cancer Institute of the NIH.
The grant will be used to conduct feasibility studies for the development of an integrated ultrasound and digital mammography system. Fischer is collaborating with Philips Medical Systems' ultrasound business in Bothell, WA, U.S., to develop a prototype to simultaneously acquire optimal breast ultrasound and digital mammography images.
Fischer Imaging CEO Harris Ravine commented: "Screening mammography, while proven to reduce mortality in large scale trials, suffers from a relatively high call back rate that is both expensive and anxiety-producing for millions of women. This research project builds on recent findings that high-quality breast ultrasound can find additional breast cancers in women with dense breasts who are considered negative for breast cancer after undergoing standard screening mammography. In addition, ultrasound is used routinely to characterize a normal finding in patients who have been called back due to an equivocal mammogram."
Mr. Ravine added: "If we are successful in achieving the goals of this research, a product would still be several years away."
Victor Reddick, senior vice president, ultrasound, for Philips Medical Systems, said the cooperation with Fischer is an extension of Philips commitment to breast cancer research. In 1996, Philips was reportedly the first company to receive a pre-market approval from the Food and Drug Administration that allowed claims for its HDI ultrasound system to differentiate benign from malignant lesions as an adjunct to mammography.
"This research project is an example of two well-accepted imaging modalities which, when combined, can potentially generate substantial improvements in diagnostic accuracy and clinical efficiency," said Mr. Reddick. "Our goal will be to acquire both ultrasound and digital mammography images concurrently. This should produce a higher sensitivity and specificity for screening tests."
The Fischer SenoScan digital mammography system is said to offer an ideal platform for efficient and simultaneous image acquisition. A review workstation will permit a radiologist to determine the status of a mammographic abnormality by reviewing the correlated ultrasound images, thus reducing callbacks and possibly increasing cancer detection in dense breast tissue.
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