New breast cancer test under study

July 22, 2008
Whether a painless, portable device that uses electrical current rather than X-ray to look for breast cancer could be an alternative to traditional mammograms is under study at the Medical College of Georgia. Pictured here are study coordinator Charlene Weathers and Dr. James Craft, MCG radiologist and principal investigator. Credit: Phil Jones

Whether a painless, portable device that uses electrical current rather than X-ray to look for breast cancer could be an alternative to traditional mammograms is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

MCG is one of 20 centers internationally and the only place in Georgia studying new technology developed by Z-Tech Inc., to compare traditional mammograms with impedence scanning, a technique based on evidence that electrical current passes through cancerous tissue differently than through normal tissue.

This phase of the study will focus on women age 40-50. Older women have less dense breast tissue so cancer is easier to find, says Dr. James Craft, MCG radiologist and principal investigator on the study. Mammograms, also performed in the study, are more accurate in this population, so this phase will be a tougher test of the new technology, he says. The first phase of the study, which began in 2005, was open to women of all ages.

"Normal breast tissue is very dense, especially in younger women, and can hide tumors," Dr. Craft says. "While we've known for a while that water flows more freely through cancerous cells, we also know that electrical current flows easier through cancerous and tumor tissue."

The Z-Tech scan works by placing a flower-shaped grouping of electrodes over each breast and sending a small, painless amount of electricity through them. Unlike traditional mammography, the scan does not involve breast compression or radiation.

"It's like doing an EKG of the breast," Dr. Craft says.

A computer immediately calculates and presents a report based on the electrical signature of the breast tissue. Rather than waiting on breast image from a traditional mammogram, the computer immediately notes whether the scan is positive or negative for cancer.

However, for study purposes, neither Dr. Craft nor the patient will know the results. Patients must undergo a mammogram within 90 days, which Dr. Craft interprets. Z-Tech compares those results to the electrical study.

The hope is that the new test – called HEDA for Homologous Electrical Difference Analysis – will provide an alternative to mammograms. While Dr. Craft believes that having this test should help find more cancers, he doesn't think it will replace traditional mammography.

"This method doesn't use radiation, is portable and there is no pain associated with the squeezing that mammograms require," he says. "I can see it being used as an additional test. I don't think it will replace mammography, but it could increase our chances of catching breast cancer."

The second phase of the Z-Tech trial is open to women age 40-50 having routine mammograms as well as those who have a suspicious lump scheduled for biopsy.

Source: Medical College of Georgia

Explore further: Robot radiology: Low cost A.I. could screen for cervical cancer better than humans

Related Stories

Robot radiology: Low cost A.I. could screen for cervical cancer better than humans

April 24, 2017
Artificial intelligence—commonly known as A.I.—is already exceeding human abilities. Self-driving cars use A.I. to perform some tasks more safely than people. E-commerce companies use A.I. to tailor product ads to customers' ...

Recommended for you

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop blood test that spots tumor-derived DNA in people with early-stage cancers

August 16, 2017
In a bid to detect cancers early and in a noninvasive way, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have developed a test that spots tiny amounts of cancer-specific DNA in blood and have used it to ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

Popular immunotherapy target turns out to have a surprising buddy

August 16, 2017
The majority of current cancer immunotherapies focus on PD-L1. This well studied protein turns out to be controlled by a partner, CMTM6, a previously unexplored molecule that is now suddenly also a potential therapeutic target. ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Jul 23, 2008
GREAT! X-ray CAUSES cancer, ACCELERATES mitosis!
Increased conduction is further proof that cancer
is of ELECTRONIC root! A SINGLE ELECTRON CAN BREAK A HYDROGEN BOND! MORE OF THEM JUST BREAK MORE BONDS!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.