KOBE, Japan >> A group led by Kobe University has developed a new image inspection method to detect breast cancer with high accuracy by using a transmitter that sends weak radio signals when placed over the breast.
The method provides clear three-dimensional images without inflicting pain on patients, unlike mammograms that are currently used, according to the group, which aims to start clinical trials in 2019.
The radio waves penetrate the breast, which is made up of mostly fatty tissue, and deflect off body tissue. As a result, an instant stereoscopic image of cancerous tumors, which deflect radio waves, are created.
In mammograms, patients often feel pain because their breasts are compressed between plates. Moreover, in the case of women with dense breast tissue, the overall image is whitish, making it difficult to detect abnormal areas, which also appear as white.
The new method is painless and capable of clearly detecting tumors. It is also free from radiation exposure, and the radio wave energy involved is no more than 0.1 percent of the radio waves transmitted from mobile phones.
The group, which includes Kobe University Professor Kenjiro Kimura, looked into the accuracy of the new method by testing about 200 people, including cancer patients with dense breast tissue. The results matched with over 90 percent of the results of other types of examinations such as mammograms, ultrasonographic scans and biopsies. The group was also able to detect early-stage cancer, which is difficult to detect using standard methods.
“I hope to commercialize this method through medical equipment by around 2021 by getting cooperation from major manufacturers,” Kimura said.
Mitsuhiro Tozaki, head of the radiology department of Sagara Hospital’s Breast Center in Kagoshima, said: “Women with dense breast tissue account for about 80 percent of all women, so it is vital to develop an examination method to replace mammograms.”