New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research finds that microwave imaging can be used to monitor how well treatment for breast cancer is working. Microwave tomography was able to distinguish between breast cancer, benign growths, and normal tissue.
Eight women with breast cancer were treated with chemotherapy until surgery, as part of their normal therapy. During treatment, magnetic resonance image was supplemented with microwave tomography at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Regions of high conductivity corresponded to the tumors, low conductivity to normal tissues, and unlike other imaging techniques, body mass index (indicating the amount of body fat), age or breast density did not appear to affect the results.
This imaging technique is low cost and can be repeated at numerous stages during treatment. Paul Meaney from Dartmouth College, who led the study explained, "By recalling patients for scans during their treatment we found that we could actually see tumors shrinking in women who responded to chemotherapy. Microwave tomography could therefore be used to identify women who are not responding to initial therapy and their treatment changed appropriately at an early stage."