Optical scanner could allow real-time breast cancer screening

The device creates better scans of dense breast tissue than traditional mammograms.

By Stephen Feller

MIAMI, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Scientists at Florida International University a handheld optical scanner that allows for better breast imaging than conventional mammograms during cancer screenings.

The scanner prevents women from being exposed to radiation, as they are during mammograms. The device also improves screening younger women with higher density breast tissue, the cause of many false-negative mammograms.


"Eventually, we hope that physicians will be able to use this for real-time imaging of breast tissues as part of regular visits by the patients" said Dr. Anu Godavarty, an associate professor at Florida International University, in a press release. "We're current working on the mathematical tools required to process the images and produce 3D tomographic images, in order to determine tumour size and depth."

The scientists performed traditional mammograms and scans with the handheld device on five women between the ages of 51 and 74 who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The device's scans were judged to be superior based on better representation of location, depth and size of tumors.

The device uses a near-infrared laser diode source to create an image of breast tissue, including scanning areas of the chest wall that mammograms do not capture. The images are created by the device using optical absorption, which shows the concentration of hemoglobin in red blood cells -- higher amounts of the protein can indicate tissue abnormalities such as tumors.


Additional clinical trials will be conducted before scientists pursue approval of the scanner by the Food and Drug Administration, the scientists said.

A paper on the devices operation and limited testing with breast cancer patients is published in Biomedical Physics and Engineering Express.

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