Wednesday 18, April 2012
Salford students in groundbreaking breast cancer research
TWO students from the University of Salford have carried out groundbreaking research into breast cancer screening.
Grant McGeever and Carl Wilcock, both mechanical engineering students, were enlisted by the University’s Professor Peter Hogg and Judith Kelly of Chester Breast Imaging Unit to help with the issue of image blurring.
During screening an X-ray of the breast is taken, a mammogram, if this image is blurred it can lead to the woman being recalled for another screening.
This is not desirable as a second dose of radiation is required, the NHS has to fund the extra cost and the woman is “likely to be anxious”, which can lead to other problems in the future.
Grant McGeever said: “One of the major problems is if a cancer is hidden by the blurriness and the woman is given the all clear when there is actually a small cancer there.”
“We are also doing it to stop the need for repeats, which would cut the costs for the NHS and also stop the heartache for women who get called back and get worried when they don’t know what it is.”
The students designed motion detectors which can measure any movement in the paddle which applies pressure to breast during screening; it must stay still to prevent image blurring.
Professor Peter Hogg said: “We are looking for small movements, sub millimetre, a millimitre or half a millimetre may not sound like a lot but it is. Mammography has very high resolution images and even a minor motion can cause artefact such as blur on the image.”
The results and data collected during the research at the Countess of Chester Hospital showed that the paddle did move during screening.
Judith Kelly, of Chester Breast Imaging Unit said: “If it proves to be the paddle movement that is causing the blurred images then something will have to be done to prevent that and to keep the paddle firmly in position.”
Over 1.6 million women are screened through the NHS Breast Screening Programme each year and once analysed and evaluated the research will be used to improve the process.
This could be done in a variety of ways including improving the equipment, paddles and also a set of precise technical guidelines being issued to radiographers to help minimise paddle movement.
By Elliot Millward
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