Researchers Work On New Technology To Help Breast Cancer Patients

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- A group of researchers at the University of Arkansas is working with new technology that scans breast cancer tumors that they say could save lives.

The project started around six years ago and uses terahertz to scan tumors taken from a patient during operation.

Magda El-Shenawee is a professor of electrical engineering at the university and has been with the project from the beginning.

She explained that this brand of frequency has never before been used in medical imaging.

“What we are hoping to prove, the concept that it can be very helpful to identify the margins of the tumor and where is the cancer, where to cut, where not to cut more," El-Shenawee said.

What she hopes will happen is that in the future this technology will be in operating rooms in various hospitals.

All a surgeon has to do is take the tumor, place it in the machine and it will then scan the tumor highlighting any spots that may show cancer tissue.

“If there is a good amount of healthy tissue around the tumor, not too much but not too little, it will assure that the cancer will not recur in the same spot," El-Shenawee said.

She explained that in many instances a patient will have to come back for a second surgery because not all of the tumor was removed from the breast.

They hope their research will end this.

Tyler Bowman, a PhD candidate,  has also been involved in the project since day one.

Right now he said they can scan the tumor and have results in around 20 minutes but hope to lower that to about 12 minutes.

Their focus right now is going through more tests and he said they have seen promising results.

“Once we are able to build a background of results that prove this concept, then we can move into clinical trials and start developing specifically for that operation room setting," Bowman said.

An issue El-Shenawee said they are having now is not having enough fresh tissue to test.

She would like to partner with local hospitals to get these samples so they can continue building that background of results.