Assessment of the additional clinical potential of X-ray dark-field imaging for breast cancer in a preclinical setup

Emons J, Fasching P, Wunderle M, Heindl F, Rieger J, Horn F, Pelzer G, Ritter A, Weber T, Radicke M, Polifka I, Wachter D, Wenkel E, Michel T, Uder M, Hartmann A, Anton G, Beckmann M, Schulz-Wendtland R, Jud S (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 12

DOI: 10.1177/1758835920957932


Background: Mammography can identify calcifications up to 50–100 μm in size as a surrogate parameter for breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Microcalcifications measuring <50 µm are also associated with breast cancer or DCIS and are frequently not detected on mammography, although they can be detected with dark-field imaging. This study examined whether additional breast examination using X-ray dark-field imaging can increase the detection rate of calcifications. Advances in knowledge: (1) evaluation of additional modality of breast imaging; (2) specific evaluation of breast calcifications. Implications for patient care: the addition of X-ray dark-field imaging to conventional mammography could detect additional calcifications. Methods: Talbot–Lau X-ray phase–contrast imaging and X-ray dark-field imaging were used to acquire images of breast specimens. The radiation dosage with the technique is comparable with conventional mammography. Three X-ray gratings with periods of 5–10 µm between the X-ray tube and the flat-panel detector provide three different images in a single sequence: the conventional attenuation image, differential phase image, and dark-field image. The images were read by radiologists. Radiological findings were marked and examined pathologically. The results were described in a descriptive manner. Results: A total of 81 breast specimens were investigated with the two methods; 199 significant structures were processed pathologically, consisting of 123 benign and 76 malignant lesions (DCIS or invasive breast cancer). X-ray dark-field imaging identified 15 additional histologically confirmed carcinoma lesions that were visible but not declared suspicious on digital mammography alone. Another four malignant lesions that were not visible on mammography were exclusively detected with X-ray dark-field imaging. Conclusions: Adding X-ray dark-field imaging to digital mammography increases the detection rate for breast cancer and DCIS associated lesions with micrometer-sized calcifications. The use of X-ray dark-field imaging may be able to provide more accurate and detailed radiological classification of suspicious breast lesions. Adding X-ray dark-field imaging to mammography may be able to increase the detection rate and improve preoperative planning in deciding between mastectomy or breast-conserving therapy, particularly in patients with invasive lobular breast cancer.

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Emons, J., Fasching, P., Wunderle, M., Heindl, F., Rieger, J., Horn, F.,... Jud, S. (2020). Assessment of the additional clinical potential of X-ray dark-field imaging for breast cancer in a preclinical setup. Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, 12.


Emons, Julius, et al. "Assessment of the additional clinical potential of X-ray dark-field imaging for breast cancer in a preclinical setup." Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology 12 (2020).

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