According to The Asahi Shimbun, Japanese researchers said they used an electromagnetic wave to quickly confirm early-stage breast tumors measuring less than 0.5 millimeter, an achievement that could lead to far faster cancer detections.
The scientists, primarily from Osaka University, said the method, which makes tiny tumors clearly visible, could lead to new diagnosis equipment for not only breast cancer but also other kinds of carcinoma.
The technology can spot tumors much faster than the conventional days-long method, which requires cells to be sampled and stained for diagnosis, the researchers said.
“Healthy and unhealthy tissues can be promptly distinguished from each other with the technology,” said Kazunori Serita, a specially appointed assistant professor of terahertz wave engineering at the university’s Institute of Laser Engineering. “I expect it to be of great help in pathological diagnosis.”
The researchers took advantage of a phenomenon where the application of laser light to a special substance known as non-linear optical crystal generates the terahertz wave, a sort of electromagnetic wave that lies between radio waves and lights.
The team put a breast cancer specimen on the crystal before applying the laser light from the other side of the crystal. Imaging terahertz waves that passed through the sample vividly showed breast cancer tumors smaller than 0.5 mm.
The technique also distinguished early-stage breast tumors from their advanced counterparts, they said.
Breast cancer is defined as Stage 0 when cancer cells do not spread outside milk duct and lobule tissues. When the lump measures 2 centimeters or less with no lymph node metastasis, the tumor is deemed as in Stage 1.
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