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IP/10/1045

Brussels, 10 August 2010

ICT research: EU funded clinical workstation will help accurately detect breast cancer

Each year 350,000 new cases of breast cancer are detected in the European Union, but a lack of effective technology to assist in cases that are difficult to diagnose means some cases go undetected or are incorrectly diagnosed. The EU is investing €3.1 million to develop better and quicker breast cancer diagnostics through the HAMAM project. This project is developing a prototype workstation to help diagnose breast cancer by integrating multi-modal images resulting from mammography, magnetic resonance imaging and other technologies as well as patient information. Doctors will be able to compare those multi-modal images side by side while viewing the patient’s history and medical analyses. The workstation will be tested in selected hospitals in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: "Breast cancer is a condition that touches millions of lives. In Europe about 130,000 women die of breast cancer every year. If more cancers could be detected on time, we could save many thousands of them. So I am very excited by the potential of the HAMAM project's digital technology to help save lives."

Around 350,000 new breast cancer cases are detected in Europe every year, which accounts for 26% of all new cancer cases among women. 17% of women dying from cancer each year die from breast cancer. Currently, the fight against breast cancer is focused on its early detection.

Despite advances in modern imaging technology, early detection and accurate diagnosis of breast cancer are still unresolved challenges. Unnecessary biopsies are taken and tumours frequently go undetected until a stage where a successful therapy is much more difficult or even impossible. The HAMAM project is tackling this by integrating multi-modal images and patient information on a single clinical workstation. Imaging modalities which can be compared include X-ray mammography, tomosynthesis, magnetic resonance imaging, 2D/3D ultrasound and positron emission mammography. The three-year project started in 2008 and received €3.1 million from the EU. It ensures that scientists, clinicians, and IT experts work together to collect all the existing patient data in a common database. More specifically, the project is developing clinical software tools that integrate imaging and quantitative data and combine it with personalised risk profiles for developing breast cancer, based on genetic information and family history.

The project’s clinical advisory board involves leading experts in breast cancer diagnosis from six EU member states (Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK) as well as from the US. Clinical tests will be undertaken in hospitals in Berlin (Germany), Dundee (the UK) and Nijmegen (The Netherlands). The tests will be supported by IT experts from several universities in Europe.

Background

HAMAM is a successor of two other EU-funded projects: SCREEN and SCREEN-TRIAL. These projects brought major advances in European breast cancer diagnosis, meaning that today Europe is the world leader in diagnostic systems for digital mammography. With HAMAM, Europe will strengthen its leadership in the area of image-based breast cancer diagnoses.

More EU-funded information and communication technologies research success stories, as well as the HAMAM project, will be presented at ICT 2010, Europe's largest ICT research event, to take place in Brussels from 27 to 29 September 2010. Journalists can attend after registering at:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/events/ict/2010/index_en.htm

For more information on the HAMAM project see:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemlongdetail.cfm?item_id=4970


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