Portable breast scanner may provide faster tumor detection

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Portable radiofrequency breast imaging device . Image source: University of Manchester in England

A new portable breast imaging device uses radiofrequency (RF) technology to provide "real-time tumor detection," possibly providing a more effective alternative to mammography for breast cancer screening in younger women.

Zhipeng Wu, PhD, from the University of Manchester in England, developed the device, which can provide quicker and less-intrusive breast images for use in various clinical settings, including general practice, according to the researchers.

The RF scanner uses CT to detect tumors by measuring dielectric contrasts in tissue, whereas mammography looks at breast density. A detector alerts the reader to differences in contrasts that may indicate tumors or other abnormalities, with the higher permittivity and conductivity of malignant tissues appearing distinctive on the device screen.

The portable imaging device is capable of reproducing up to 30 images per second and may be more useful in women under 50 years of age, who account for 20 percent of breast cancer cases but in whom mammography is up to 35 percent less accurate than in women over 50 years of age, Zhipeng noted.

"Although there is still research to be done, the system has great potential," Zhipeng summed.