Microwaves Realize Painless, Radiation-free Mammography

ntegral Geometry Science Inc, which develops a new breast cancer screening method that does not cause pain or exposure to radiation, raised about ¥2 billion from Toppan Printing Co Ltd, etc.

The new method developed by Integral Geometry Science, a venture firm spun off from Kobe University, is called “Microwave Mammography.”

Microwaves pass through fat and mammary glands, which constitute almost the entire breasts and, therefore, are suited for breast cancer screening. However, it was difficult to calculate and visualize the location of a cancer tumor based on waves reflected from the tumor, making it impossible to commercialize such methods.

Kenjiro Kimura, professor at the Center for Mathematical and Data Sciences, Kobe University, and CSO (chief strategy officer) of Integral Geometry Science, broke the theoretical wall of breast cancer screening devices using microwaves.

A research group including Kimura succeeded in the visualization of cancer tumors by creating an equation for analyzing waves reflected from objects and solving it. The group obtained a patent for it in Japan, Europe and China (nine countries in total) as “Solution to Inverse Scattering Problem and Imaging.”

This technology can be applied not only to medical images (for breast cancer screening, etc) but also to resource exploration, measurement of aging infrastructures, ruin exploration, etc, according to the research group.

Integral Geometry Science conducted clinical researches with about 300 actual breast cancer patients and about 50 healthy people by using the Microwave Mammography.

“With the Microwave Mammography, we have never missed a breast cancer patient,” Kimura said.

After getting ready for volume production of the device, Integral Geometry Science plans to start a clinical trial in fiscal 2020 and apply for approval of the device as a medical device. After the approval, it expects to release the device in the fall of 2021 or later.

With the Microwave Mammography, a probe that transmits and receives microwaves is placed on a breast for screening. To make the surface position of a breast correspond to the three-dimensional (3D) structure of the breast, a “breast surface coordinate sticker” is attached to the subject’s breasts. Toppan Printing made the sticker and will continue to provide it to Integral Geometry Science.

The device is manufactured by using parts of 20-30 companies including a semiconductor chip, plated circuit, probe, etc. Integral Geometry Science has not yet decided a manufacturing base.

X-ray mammography is usually used for breast cancer screening. It can allegedly detect early-stage cancer tumors. On the other hand, when X-ray mammography is used, the entire breasts are whitened in images in the case of “dense breasts (prevalent in Asia),” making it difficult to detect cancer tumors. Moreover, X-ray mammography causes pain at the time of screening.

Also, there are devices using ultrasonic waves, which do not cause pain or exposure to radiation. But the accuracy of screening depend on the ability of doctor.

Photo Text: The breasts of a breast cancer patient were photographed by using X-ray mammography (top) and the Microwave Mammography (bottom). In the case of X-ray mammography, the entire breasts are whitened, making it difficult to detect cancer tumors. On the other hand, the Microwave Mammography makes it easier to detect tumors because it does not visualize mammary glands, etc.

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