Detecting breast cancer tumors using infrared cameras at RIT

Local News

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) One in twelve women within their life-time will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Early detection and treatment are key. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, engineers are using a new way to catch breast cancer faster.

It’s infrared technology that detects hard to find tumors that may hide within dense breast tissue.

engineers said the science behind their method is safe and non-invasive.

“We’re able to use infrared cameras to see the heat on the breast surface. So if there’s a tumor growing and we’re looking at the breast, with infrared camera we’re able to see the heat pattern that’s coming off of that tumor,” said Alyssa Recinella, Ph.D. engineering student. 

According to Recinella, cancer tumors may hide within dense breast tissue that mammography may not pick up. In collaboration with Rochester Regional Health, they’ve been combining technologies and using a new exact mathematical equation which has optimal results.

“We tested 26 individuals and in every single case, we have been able to detect the tumor. We haven’t missed a single one,” said Satish Kandlikar, Professor of Engineering. 

The engineers say it’s rewarding to see the outcome of their technology to help save lives. But say their infrared cameras should be used as an addition and not a substitute for mammography.

“So they have another option. Not only limited by mammography or ultrasound or conventional techniques. So hopefully this will help to save lives by detecting when it is at early stages,” said José Luis González Hernández, Ph. D. engineering student. 

In addition to being non-invasive, the technique is easy, quick and cost effective. According to the department, further studies are needed to decide the best way to utilize this technology in practice.   

Current patients in the Rochester Regional Health Breast Center volunteer using the infrared system after an initial mammogram shows suspicious findings on x-ray films.

Find out more: https://www.rit.edu/news/infrared-imaging-technology-being-developed-better-detect-breast-cancer

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