Researchers at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in the University of Western Australia are working on a novel method of analysing tumours that could reduce the need for multiple surgeries in the treatment of breast cancer. Miniature S-beam load cells from Futek play a key role in the analysis.
Breast-conserving surgery is the most common surgical procedure used in the treatment of early stage breast cancer. The aim of this surgery is to remove all malignant tissue, together with a surrounding ‘margin’ of healthy tissue.
Any malignant tumours found within the margin are associated with a high rate of reoccurrence of cancer, meaning that subjects may require further surgery, and as many as 30% of patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery do require further surgery.
The Western Australian researchers are using compression optical coherence elastography, which is a high resolution optical imaging technique that probes the mechanical properties of tissue and generates three-dimensional images of tissue elasticity that can help identify regions of malignant tumour.
All biological tissue exhibits a nonlinear stress-strain relationship. The benchtop system uses a motorised lab jack to apply a bulk preload to the breast tissue before elastography is performed. The applied force is monitored as the bulk preload is applied using the miniature S-beam load cells mounted on the lab jack.
The researchers have already published a number of studies on the feasibility of the technique. They are now working on a larger scale clinical study to determine the sensitivity and sensitivity of the technique for clinical assessment of tumour margins.
Futek is represented in Australia and New Zealand by Metromatics.
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