Enhanced UWB Radar Imaging of Breast Tumours

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Breast cancer is the commonest cause of death in women between the ages of 35 and 55 in Europe. Worldwide, a woman will die from the disease every 13 minutes. Breast cancer is, however, a very survivable disease but it is vital that the tumour is caught at an early stage. This requires a national screening programme for all women (in addition to regular self-examination by women of their breasts).Unfortunately the existing screening techniques are not very ideal. X-ray for example, is only suitable for older women and is also quite uncomfortable. Even in these older (post-menopausal) women, it has quite high false-positive rates (resulting in women having unnecessary biopsies) and false-negative rates (in other words, it misses some tumours).For younger women there is no suitable routine screening technique available,.The aim of this proposal is to continue research into a new imaging method based on UWB radar. This sends out a short burst of radio-waves into the breast and listens for reflections - these radio-waves are completely harmless and the imaging procedure is quick and comfortable.At the moment this new imaging technique is in its infancy and has just begun to generate images in post-menopausal women. It is proposed that enhancements to the method will enable it to be applied to younger women as well, enabling the creation of a cheap, quick and comfortable breast imaging method for all women.Because the imaging method is harmless, it could be repeated as often as necessary and because it will be very cheap, it could be based in a GP surgery or even a van, rather than requiring a visit to hospital.


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Description The research within this grant was able to clearly demonstrate the potential of microwave radar for breast cancer detection. The method was validated in the laboratory by imaging various "phantoms" - replicas of human tissue, paving the way for clinical trials.

The great majority of the original objectives were met and published in leading journals and conferences: including construction an testing of an imaging prototype, demonstration of improved imaging (beamforming) algorithms and improvements of the basic antenna design.
Exploitation Route The use of microwave imaging for medical purposes is currently under consideration by a number of academic and industrial groups worldwide.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description This grant maintained the strong electromagnetic imaging expertise and facilities at Bristol - commercial benefit included work with three industrial parties. One of those parties is Micrima Ltd, a Bristol-based spin out which is currently commercialising a radar-based system for breast cancer imaging.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Electronics,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Economic