Breast Ultrasound Elastography is the Most Mature and Well-documented Method for the Measurement of Tissue Stiffness: A Review
Keywords:Breast, Ultrasound elastography, Tissue stiffness, Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy and one of the leading causes of death in females worldwide. North America has one of the highest incidence breast cancer rates in the world, making breast cancer awareness a high priority. Only in the USA, 527 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer while 110 women will die of it per day. Central to the importance of breast cancer diagnosis is the fact that almost one-third of the latter group could survive if their cancer is detected and treated early. In a worldwide context, this translates into nearly 400,000 lives that could be saved every year as a result of early detection. As such; developing technique that can help to detect and diagnose breast cancer at early stage can have a great impact on survival and quality of life of breast cancer patients. Conventional breast cancer screening and detection techniques such as clinical breast examination and X- ray mammography are known to have low sensitivity. Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is more sensitive modality for breast cancer detection, however, MRI is costly and has been shown to have low specificity for breast cancer diagnosis. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI has been demonstrated to provide a good sensitivity and specificity for differentiation of benign versus malignant lesions, due to altered angiogenesis mechanisms in tumors. However, in addition to being costly, requires injection of exogenous contrast agents to provide such contrast. An alternate imaging technique for breast cancer detection employs tissue stiffness as contrast mechanism. The technique is founded on the fact that alterations in breast tissue stiffness are frequently associated with pathology. Ultrasound elastography is the most mature and well-documented method for the measurement of tissue stiffness. Elastographybased imaging technique has received substantial attention in recent years for non-invasive assessment of tissue mechanical properties. These techniques take advantage of changed soft tissue elasticity in various pathologies to yield qualitative and quantitative information that can be used for diagnostic purpose. Measurements are acquired in specialized imaging modes that can detect tissue stiffness in response to an applied mechanical force. Ultrasoundbased methods are of particular interest due to its many inherent advantages, such as wide availability including at the bedside and relatively low cost. While ultrasound elastography has shown promising results for non-invasive assessment of breast stiffness is emerging.
Faridpur Med. Coll. J. 2021;16(1):42-44