Mammography is currently the gold standard for breast cancer screening and is the only screening tool that has been demonstrated through large randomized clinical trials to decrease breast cancer mortality. Nevertheless, there are limitations of mammography, particularly in patients with dense breasts, where sensitivity is decreased by approximately 10-20%. While ultrasound, MRI, and tomosynthesis have shown promise as supplemental tools for breast cancer screening, the use of these modalities are not without limitations and risks, such as increased cost, increased radiation, operator dependence, and increased false positive rate. There is therefore a continued need to develop better tools for breast cancer detection. Infrared Imaging (IRI) for breast screening was introduced in 1956 and was approved by the FDA in 1982. IRI fell out of favor due to poor sensitivity. With advances in infrared camera technology, there has been renewed interests on the use of IRI as an adjunct to mammography for breast cancer screening with advantages such as lack of ionizing radiation, patient comfort (touchless and does not require compressing the breast), and portability.
Steady-state IRI relies on the thermal characteristics (metabolic rate, neoangiogenesis) of a tumor, and thus is highly complementary to mammography in cancer detection. The presented technology uses steady-state IRI in the prone position, allowing for direct optical access to the inframammary fold and thermally isolated breasts, eliminating undesired thermal artifacts resulting from breast contacting the chest surface. The prone position also has distinct advantages in terms of accuracy over the upright position commonly used in other IRI imaging modalities. Preliminary data from IRI was obtained in the prone position.
A digital breast model is generated and used for thermal simulation and further mathematically based analysis. Using Numerical Heat Transfer Software and inverse modeling, this technology has been validated against seven biopsy-proven test cases.
Tumor localization is incredibly important for further management such as biopsy or surgical resection and in correlating the findings with those of other imaging modalities