Mammography Scientist Honored by Ladies’ Home Journal

Dr. Etta Pisano, a professor in the departments of radiology and biomedical engineering and vice dean of UNC’s School of Medicine, is one of seven recipients of a new award presented by Ladies’ Home Journal.

The Health Breakthrough award recognizes leading medical professionals who are making life-saving and life-enhancing discoveries in research, diagnostics and treatment, with results that have significantly helped women and families.

Pisano and the other recipients were honored this week at a luncheon sponsored by the magazine in New York.

Pisano is director of the Biomedical Research Imaging Center at UNC and is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She was cited for her pioneering research showing that digital mammograms are as reliable as film mammograms and are better at finding breast cancer in young women and those with dense breast tissue. Digital screening allows radiologists to adjust contrast and to zoom in on suspicious areas, which requires less radiation than film and allows files to easily be sent to another doctor for a second opinion.

To determine the effectiveness of digital screening, Pisano launched an estimated $26 million study in 2001 called the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial. Pisano said she practically started preparing large-scale studies to improve cancer care at age 15, when her mother died of a brain tumor.

The trial was funded by the National Cancer Institute and was conducted by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network. It included scientists at 33 sites in the U.S. and Canada. About 43,000 women enrolled in the trial, and results were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in October 2005.

Pisano and the other honorees, selected from a candidate list of nearly 100 professionals, will be featured in the September issue of Ladies’ Home Journal.

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