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Radar technology for cancer scans

12th November 2008

A new breast screening system which uses safe radio waves is being trialled at a hospital near Bristol.

The new scan, which took three years to develop and is being tested at Frenchay Hospital, uses safe radio waves rather than radiation-producing x-rays.

Experts say that the system has a very low radio risk, put at about the same level as speaking into a mobile phone held at arm’s length.

A scan takes six minutes for both breasts, which is less than a normal x-ray but the image is just as clear.

Professor Alan Preece and Dr Ian Craddock developed the breast-imaging device which used radio waves, unlike conventional mammograms.

Dr Craddock, from Bristol University's electrical and electronic engineering department, said: "This new imaging technique works by transmitting radio waves of a very low energy and detecting reflected signals, it then uses these signals to make a 3D image of the breast.

"This is basically the same as any radar system, such as the radars used for air traffic control at our airports."

So far, 60 women at Frenchay have been examined using the new system since September. If positive results continue further trials will be held over the next year.

At present women are diagnosed firstly by a clinician, then using a mammography or ultrasound and lastly by a needle biopsy.

The radar breast imaging system, which provides a very detailed 3D digital image, is built using transmitters and receivers arranged around a ceramic cup, which the breast sits in.

 

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