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Portable Breast Scanner to Allow Women to Test Themselves at Home

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A University of Manchester (UK) professor has designed a revolutionary portable breast scanner that can soon let women take breast exams themselves in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.

Professor Zhipeng-Wu from the university’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering is the brains behind this breakthrough scanner that can allow women to see instant real-time images of their scan with fast and accurate results.

The device is cup-shaped and designed to easily fit over a bra. The sensors in the cup take up to 30 images from different angles every second. The scanner is attached to a laptop where images are displayed identifying both benign and malignant tumors with red dots.

The scanner uses radio waves to scan the breast, thus eliminating any danger of radiation. This would let women safely scan themselves frequently without risk. The radio frequency uses computer tomography, the same technology used in cell phones but using up only a fraction of the power.

Conventional mammograms use density to detect tumors where this scanner uses radio frequency to compare the difference between healthy and diseased tissue.

Conventional mammograms have only 60 percent accuracy in women under 50 but the scanner designed by Wu has had a high rate of accuracy in this age group.

This scanner could potentially allow women to take control of their own breast health, particularly those considered high-risk and those under 60 years of age.

“The real-time imaging minimizes the chance of missing a breast tumor during scanning,” said Wu. “Other systems also need liquid or gel as a matching substance, such as an ultrasound, to work but with our system you don’t need that – it can be done simply in oil, milk, water or even with a bra on."

“Although there is still research to be done the system has got potential to bring a new way for breast cancer diagnosis,” concluded Wu.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and it is estimated that over 207,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2010. Early diagnosis is imperative to swift treatment and recovery.

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