ATLANTAA novel breast imaging technology that uses radiowaves in the
microwave frequency range to detect and locate lesions shows promise in
preliminary case reports and will be entering clinical trials, said Allan
Malmed, MD, medical director, Northwest Community Hospital Interdisciplinary
Breast Center, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Dr. Malmed and his colleagues
presented the findings at a poster session of the 102nd Annual Meeting of the
American Roentgen Ray Society (abstract 159).
X-ray mammography is currently the most effective screening modality, but
approximately 10% to 30% of breast cancers go undetected by mammography.
"The high number of false negatives may be attributed to the limitations
of mammography in assessing dense glandular tissue and regions close to the
chest wall or underarm, and in imaging very early stage tumors that do not yet
exhibit microcalcifications," Dr. Malmed said.
The Breast Cancer Radar (BCR) screening system, which is being developed by
Interstitial LLC, Prospect, Illinois, works by detecting differences in water
content between malignant and normal breast tissue. Breast tumors contain more
water and reflect back the microwave pulses. These signals are analyzed to
create a three-dimensional image showing the size and location of the tumor
Dr. Malmed said that the test is simple to perform and takes about 5
minutes. "The patient lies on her stomach on a table that allows her
breasts to be scanned by the radiowave signals. There is no compression, and
both breasts are imaged at the same time," he said.
BCR was used to detect an infiltrating ductal and lobular carcinoma in the
left breast of a 67-year-old woman. The patient had located a mass during
The mass was subsequently diagnosed by ultrasound imaging and was palpable,
but x-ray mammography 3 months earlier had failed to detect it. The patient’s
radiographically dense breast tissue may have lowered the sensitivity of the
mammogram, Dr. Malmed said.
To date, the technology has been used to image 22 patients with known
cancers or cysts, and the new technology has been able to accurately depict
them, Dr. Malmed said. BCR has been used to image cancers as small as 1 cm and
cysts as small as 4 mm, and the clinical trials will allow researchers to
evaluate the effectiveness of this technique in detecting even smaller cancers.