Microwave imaging for monitoring adjuvant chemotherapy

Microwave tomography (MT)  provides images of tissue dielectric properties, which appear to be specific for breast cancer. MT is a low-cost technology and does not present an exposure risk, so that the modality may be a good candidate for monitoring neoadjuvant chemotherapy.  In a recently published paper (Meaney et al. Breast Cancer Res 2013; 15: R35) a group of researchers from Dartmouth College in the USA evaluated whether microwave imaging might be used for the monitoring of treatment for breast cancer is working.

The study involved eight women with breast cancer who were receiving chemotherapy until surgery as part of their normal therapy. During the treatment process, magnetic resonance imaging was supplemented with microwave tomography. Regions of high conductivity corresponded to the tumors, low conductivity to normal tissues. Unlike other imaging techniques, body mass index (indicating the amount of body fat), age or breast density did not appear to affect the results. The low-cost MT imaging technique can be repeated at numerous stages during treatment. The study leader, Dr Paul Meaney said “By recalling patients for scans during their treatment we found that we could actually see tumors shrinking in women who responded to chemotherapy. Microwave tomography could therefore be used to identify women who are not responding to initial therapy so that their treatment could be changed appropriately at an early stage.”