Dr. Lydia Su, PhD Dr. Lydia Su, PhD

Assistant Professor of Radiological Sciences and Physics in Residence (Medical Physics)
Department of Radiological Sciences, MRI Division
John Tu and Thomas Yuen Center for Onco Imaging

Dr. Lydia Su, PhD applies advanced MRI techniques developed in the Center for Onco Imaging to the diagnosis and monitoring of breast cancer. Her studies are yielding important information on the effect of therapy on tumor cells and tumor blood vessels. Dr Su's works with Drs Baick, Butler, Hsiang, Mehta, and Tromberg.to apply these techniques for patient care and to validate newer technologies or therapies.

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Research Profile

1. What is your breast cancer specialty?

I am a physicist specializing in breast MRI.

2. Why is this an important part of breast cancer care?

MRI has emerged into a standard clinical tool for breast cancer care, particularly for pre-operative planning and high-risk screening.

3. How is this different then what might be offered in the community (outside of UC Irvine )?

We have grants funded by NIH (National Institute of Health) and CBCRP (California Breast Cancer Research Program), and will be able to perform MRI for patients without charging to them or their insurance company.

4. Specifically, What is it? (description of the treatment, procedure, study, etc.)

Breast MRI examination can provide 3-dimensional coverage from both breasts. MRI is considered as the most sensitive imaging modality for cancer detection in women with dense breast, breast implants, or scar tissue from previous treatment.

5. What is it for?

We will offer MRI studies for three groups of patients: 1) patients who have equivocal findings on mammogram or ultrasound. Breast MRI can help rule out or confirm suspicious finding for cancer detection; 2) patients who are already diagnosed with cancer. Breast MRI can be used to detect tumor margin or the existence of multifocal / multicentric disease for pre-operative planning. It will help decide whether a conservation surgery is appropriate, and if yes how large the excision area needs to be. 3) patients who decide to receive chemotherapy before surgery. Breast MRI will be performed to monitor the early response after 1-2 cycle chemotherapy is given. If the patient is not responding well, it will allow timely adjustment of treatment regimens.

6. What will my (the patient) experience be like?

As for any imaging examination, you will need to stay still inside the MRI scanner for approximately 1 hour. To be able to detect cancer, a contrast medium (an MRI dye) will be injected into IV.

7. What were past studies of yours which influenced your current work?

We have been performing breast MRI studies since 1999. The investigators have acquired substantial experience. We are currently developing optical imaging techniques, aiming to further improve our ability in differentiating benign lesions from breast cancer.

8. What current studies, or novel options within your specialty are currently available?

The clinical MRI study is offered at many hospitals in Orange County. However, either the patient needs to pay herself or an authorization from the insurance company is needed. We will provide this MRI study free of charge. Besides, we can also perform MR spectroscopy study to detect Choline (a signature of cancer), to improve diagnostic accuracy.

9. What is the best way for potential patients to reach you?

The patient will need to see physicians at UC Irvine Breast Center to be referred to us for an MRI study.

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