Land Mine Technology Can Be Used To Detect Breast Cancer In 8 Seconds
Mammography could be a thing of the past if the new breast cancer screening technology is launched.
British scientists have used anti-landmine technology to develop a new breast cancer screening system that can detect signs of disease in just eight seconds.
The system is called MARIA, which is faster, safer and more comfortable than mammography; the current method used to screen women in the UK.
The new breast screening system can be used on women of any age, and would allow them to be screened at their own GP's surgeries. The researchers of MARIA say they hope to make breast cancer scans as normal as possible.
The MARIA technology is based on a radar system initially developed to detect non-metallic land mines, and uses radio waves to create a 3D scan of the breast in seconds.
The system was developed by Microma, a company that began at Bristol University.
Women in the UK over the age of 50 are invited for breast cancer screening every three years, using mammography, which uses low dose X-rays. Mammography is not painful but can be uncomfortable as the women's breast is squeezed between two X-ray plates. The new method involves women placing their breast into a ceramic cup, so the breast does not need to be compressed.
X-ray mammography also works less well in denser breast tissue, more common in younger women and those who have not been through the menopause.
The new system was used in a trial run on women with breast cancer and detected around 80 per cent of tumours, which is a success rate close to that of mammography, said the scientists, who are aiming to achieve a rate of 90 per cent.
Breast specialist at Southmead Hospital, Dr Mike Shere said: "We are very excited about the potential of this completely new method of breast imaging.
"It has none of the disadvantages of the current methods, ultrasound, mammography and MRI. It is quick, safe, comfortable and cheap, and is already producing good images with high sensitivity."
The company is now in the process of raising funds to develop the technology further.