News | June 17, 2010

New Breastlight Data Confirms Accuracy in Detecting Malignant Tumors

Photography of Breastlight taken at Sunderland trial. Shadow on left breast represents increased blood supply (angiogenesis) associated with tumor growth. Confirmed by biopsy as malignant tumor of 2.2 cm. Right breast with no shadow confirmed as negative.

June 17, 2010 – Breastlight successfully detects malignant tumors and picks up lesions as small as 7 mm, according to data presented this week at the European Institute of Oncology's 12th Milan Breast Cancer Conference. [1]

The handheld device, for women to use at home, was tested in a trial at a breast clinic in Sunderland City Hospital involving 300 women. Patients were examined with Breastlight and findings compared to mammography, ultrasound and biopsy.

Breastlight detected 12 out of 18 confirmed malignant tumors, and correctly identified as negative 240 out of 282 breasts. [1] The device also detected malignant tumors as small as 7 mm. [1] Malignancies below 1.8 cm are considered non-palpable. [2]

“We were impressed with the sensitivity and specificity of the Breastlight device,” said Matei Dordea, specialist registrar at Sunderland City Hospital. “Mammography sensitivity falls between 60 and 90 percent and specificity falls between 75 and 95 percent. Breastlight’s sensitivity was 67 percent with specificity at 85 percent. We are not saying that Breastlight could replace mammography, but it can reliably pick up abnormal lumps which can be investigated to assess whether benign or malignant.”

The Sunderland team see Breastlight’s role in women who find palpation difficult: “Women who have confirmed recurrent cysts find it difficult to palpate. As benign cysts tend not to have a blood supply, they will not show up with Breastlight. However, if women feel new cysts they should always seek medical advice.”

Breastlight is a UK invention that works by shining a very bright but harmless red LED light through breast tissue. Veins and other blood vessels show up as dark lines, often referred to as the “map” of the breast. This is normal. If a woman detects dark spots or shadows, this is generally an indication that there is an abnormality. This could be the stimulation of blood vessels (angiogenesis) when a tumor is developing or a benign lesion such as a bruise or blood-filled cyst.

For more information:


1. Iwuchukwu, O., Keaney, N., Dordea, M. “Analysis of Breastlight findings in patients with biopsies.” City Hospital Sunderland. Presentation given at the European Institute of Oncology’s 12th Milan Breast Cancer Conference
2. Canadian Cancer Society

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