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    Transillumination or Diaphanography

    In transillumination, light is shone through the breast to illuminate its interior structure (3). By using beams of light in the red and near-infrared spectrum, transillumination produces an image of breast tissue on film, usually through video systems that permit simultaneous recording and viewing on a monitor.

    This technique is based on the principle that different types of tissues (i.e., cancerous and normal tissues) will manifest different patterns of light scatter and absorption; therefore, the transmission of light through the breast will vary in identifiable ways.

    Within the breast, adipose (fatty) breast tissue typically absorbs less light and thus allows greater light transmission. Both glandular breast tissue and cancerous tissue absorb more light and allow comparably less light transmission; however, the increased vascularity of carcinoma yields comparably lower light transmission than normal glandular breast tissue.

    Transillumination has at least four important limitations as a method for breast cancer screening.

    • First, transillumination is not sufficiently sensitive or specific to be an acceptable screening technique for breast cancer.
    • Second, transillumination is especially ineffective in detecting small (less than 1 cm) tumors.
    • Third, the sensitivity of transillumination is substantially diminished for tumors near the chest wall and for women with dense breast tissue, because dense breast tissue produces greater light scatter.
    • Fourth, transillumination cannot distinguish clearly between the increased vascularity associated with cancer and the increased vascularity associated with different areas of normal breast structure, some benign breast conditions, and internal hemorrhage associated with recent biopsy.

    Source:CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report


    Return to-> Diagnosing Breast Cancer - Tools & Techniques


    Elsewhere on the Web:

    MedlinePlus Encyclopedia - Transillumination
    Transillumination Medical Information

     

     

     

     

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