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Terahertz Imaging Helps Analyze Breast Tumor Tissue

Breast cancer is a major medical concern among aging and even younger women. Smaller breast tumors can be medically removed, but they must first be identified and properly analyzed for removal, and pulsed terahertz (THz) imaging technology may be able to help. Researchers from the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, Ark.) and Northwest Arkansas Pathology Associates, P.A. (Fayetteville, Ark.) used a commercial TPS Spectra 3000 THz imaging spectrometer from TeraView to produce THz imaging pulses. The system uses a spectral range from 100 GHz to 4 THz with a reflection imaging module (RIM) to perform two-dimensional analysis of breast tissue samples. The module incorporates microminiature motors to enable changes in area of study as small as 50 μm when raster scanning a sample.

The researchers initially scanned tissue samples with 10 μm thickness using step sizes of 200 and 400 μm, and then shifting to a smaller raster scan step size of 50 μm to focus on tissue areas of interest. The goal of the THz imaging is to differentiate regions of the breast tissue, in order to identify carcinoma tissue from healthy tissue. The time-domain THz images help to distinguish the different regions in cancerous and non-cancerous breast tissue even for tissue samples that were extremely thin or dehydrated. This use of THz imaging technology indicates the potential usefulness of this high-frequency pulsed signal technology for identifying cancerous tissues from healthy tissues for many different parts of the body, but should provide more immediate benefits for women with concerns about breast cancer.

See: “Terahertz Imaging of Excised Breast Tumor Tissue on Paraffin Sections,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, May 2015, p. 2,088.

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