Omar Ramahi with a screening prototype. (Credit: University of Waterloo)

A new, inexpensive technology could save lives and money by routinely screening women for breast cancer without exposure to radiation. The system uses harmless microwaves and artificial intelligence (AI) software to detect even small, early-stage tumors within minutes.

A prototype device — the culmination of 15 years of work on the use of microwaves for tumor detection, not imaging — cost less than $5,000 to build. It consists of a small sensor in an adjustable box about 15 cm square that is situated under an opening in a padded examination table.

Patients lie face-down on the table so that one breast at a time is positioned in the box. The sensor emits microwaves that bounce back and are then processed by AI software on a laptop computer. By comparing the tissue composition of one breast with the other, the system is sensitive enough to detect anomalies less than one centimeter in diameter.

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Medical Design Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2020 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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