Canadian team develops microwave breast imaging unit

2016 08 18 13 26 22 430 Breast Screening Mammo 400

Canadian researchers have developed a prototype of a breast cancer screening technology based on microwaves that does not expose women to ionizing radiation.

A team led by Omar Ramahi, PhD, University of Waterloo in Ontario, developed an imaging system that uses microwaves and artificial intelligence software to identify early-stage breast cancer.

The prototype consists of a sensor in a 15-cm-sq box mounted under a padded exam table. Women lie facedown on the table with one breast at a time positioned in the box. The sensor emits microwaves that are then processed by the software, comparing the tissue composition of each breast with the other. The system can detect anomalies less than 1 cm in diameter.

The prototype cost less than $5,000 to build, according to the researchers.

"If women were screened regularly with this, potential problems would be caught much sooner -- in the early stages of cancer," Ramahi said in a statement released by the university. "Our system can complement existing technology, reserving much more expensive options for when they're really needed."

Ramahi's group has applied for a patent for the microwave technology and started a company, Wave Intelligence, to bring the system to market.

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