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.
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