Prof develops tech for fast breast cancer detection

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Waterloo Engineering professor Dr. Omar Ramahi, from the electrical and computer engineering department, leads a research team pioneering a method to detect breast cancer in women early enough for them to receive life-saving treatment.

The innovative technology aims to be more accurate as well as cheaper to provide than today’s most common diagnostic tools such as X-ray mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Test runs have been completed in two minutes and used less energy than a smartphone. It would also be safer than X-rays, which expose patients to high-level radiation that can damage DNA and cause cancer.

Breast cancer is both the second-most common cancer and the second-leading cause of death from cancer for Canadian women. The sooner a malignant tumour is detected, the better a woman’s chance of survival.

“We are coming very close to providing a method for breast cancer detection at an early stage that is inexpensive and harmless for women,” said Dr. Omar Ramahi, lead researcher and a professor in Waterloo’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “We’re trying to make a serious contribution to women’s health and create an alternative that is clinically and commercially viable.”

Ramahi has tested his system on breast phantoms, which are artificial structures designed to emulate the properties of a human female’s breast. “The results are extremely encouraging,” he said, noting that their technology has no competitors.

The researchers’ next steps are to develop a system that, with approval from Health Canada, can be tested on human subjects. 

Go to New method can detect early-stage breast cancer in two minutes for the full story.