An important diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer is X-ray mammography, but it has certain drawbacks that limit its effectiveness. For example, it can give in false positive and negative results; it also exposes women to low doses of ionizing radiation, which - while accepted as safe - still carry some risk.
In the first phase of clinical testing of a new imaging device, researchers from Netherlands' University of Twente and Medisch Spectrum Twente Hospital in Oldenzaal used photoacoustics - light-induced sound - rather than ionizing radiation to detect and visualize breast tumors. The team's preliminary results, which were conducted on 12 patients with diagnosed malignancies and reported today in the Optical Society's osa provide proof-of-concept support that the technology can distinguish malignant tissue by providing high-contrast images of tumors.
"While we're very early in the development of this new technology, it is promising. Our hope is that these early results will one day lead to the development of a safe, comfortable, and accurate alternative or adjunct to conventional techniques for detecting breast tumors," explained researcher Michelle Heijblom, a Ph.D. student at the University of Twente.