Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Breast Cancer Detector That Uses Electricity Instead of X-Rays Under Study


A painless, portable device that uses electrical current rather than X-ray to examine breasts for cancer is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

MCG is one of some 20 centers across the world studying impedance scanning, a technique based on evidence that electrical current passes through cancerous tissue more easily than normal tissue. Preliminary studies have shown the technique, which takes about 10 minutes and doesn’t require often-uncomfortable breast compression, can pick up very small tumors, according to its developers, Z-Tech, Inc., which has offices in South Carolina and Ontario.

The study of some 4,500 women – about 500 at MCG Medical Center – will determine whether the device, which produces a report rather than a breast image, is accurate enough for widespread use, says Dr. James H. Craft, MCG radiologist and a principal investigator. Impedance scanning involves placing a flower-shaped grouping of electrodes with a hole in the center for the nipple over each breast. A small amount of electricity is sent through the breasts and a computer immediately calculates and presents findings based on Z-Tech’s benchmarks for negative and positive results. Rather than waiting for a radiologist to look at an X-ray, the computer immediately notes whether the image is HEDA negative, meaning no cancer detected, or positive.

“For a number of years now, it’s been known that when a malignancy happens in the breast, the impedance of electricity through that area decreases,” Dr. Craft says. “Apparently, cell permeability increases so water flows through the cells more than in normal tissue. The electrical signature of that tissue is different.” Electrocardiograms, which have been used for years to assess heart muscle, also are based on the theory that normal and diseased tissue conduct electricity differently.

Potential study enrollees include healthy women who get a screening mammogram and opt to get the additional electrical study within 90 days. Patients coming in for a first-time biopsy or tissue aspiration also are eligible prior to their procedure. “We want volunteers who want to help society,” says Dr. Craft of the additional test. “Mammography currently is the standard around the world for imaging the breast,” Dr. Craft says. Healthy women are encouraged to do monthly self-exams, get yearly physician exams, get their first screening mammograms between ages 35-40 and begin yearly exams at age 40. Generally, the breast cancer risk increases with age. Although he’s not convinced the new impedance scanning – called HEDA for Homologous Electrical Difference Analysis – will ever replace mammography, Dr. Craft sees its potential. “Society is always trying to find something better, more accurate, more precise, that doesn’t hurt, doesn’t give any radiation and doesn’t cost much.”

HEDA doesn’t use radiation so it doesn’t require lead-lined exam rooms and is highly portable, which enhances its usage potential in even the most remote areas of the world, says Dr. Craft. “You could put it in a van with a generator and go around and screen a lot of women.” HEDA may exceed mammography’s performance particularly in assessing the dense breasts of younger women. “As women age, breasts become more fatty; they lose the fibrous and glandular tissue that are there for milk production,” says Dr. Craft. Less-dense breasts appear darker in an X-ray image, making them easier for the radiologist to assess. “If this is a very innocuous study that can be applied to younger people and we can pick up cancers in women who are 25, 27, 28 and save many lives without giving them radiation … it could save people and money, too.”

HEDA is performed after breast tissue has had 24 hours to recover from the compression of mammography. Exclusionary factors include previous breast surgery, nipple rings, anatomical abnormalities and women who are pregnant or breast feeding. Potential side effects include localized irritation at the site of the electrodes, a rare occurrence that typically resolves within 24 hours.

A repeat study is performed a year later and participants will receive a small compensation after the second visit. Participants will not receive HEDA results but will receive their mammogram report per usual, says Helen Fain, a nurse and study sub-investigator and coordinator.

For more information, call Mrs. Fain at 706-721-9684; Charlene Weathers, nurse, study sub-investigator and coordinator, at 706-721-9683

Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>