Breast cancer is a leading killer of North American women. Early detection through imaging can reduce breast cancer mortality. Our research is directed toward using the techniques of physics and engineering to develop new and more powerful diagnostic imaging methods for breast cancer. Research projects include: development of ultra high resolution digital X-ray detectors, and investigation of new applications such as 3-dimensional imaging techniques, quantitative imaging analysis for risk prediction and the use of computer-aided detection algorithms for image processing. New areas of research include development of 3-dimensional pathology techniques, functional imaging methods for breast cancer and the application of wireless and high speed communication systems for tele-imaging. Figure 1 illustrates a technique called contrast digital mammography, developed by physicists and students in our lab to improve the detection and diagnosis of breast cancers that often can’t be seen on conventional mammograms.
By analyzing the physics of image production, it is possible to calibrate the mammographic imaging system to provide quantitative information. In Figure 2, the mammogram has been displayed as a map of tissue composition. This information can be used to evaluate a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Our laboratory has excellent resources for the design and evaluation of microelectronic devices for use X-ray imaging detectors. In addition, we have a state-of-the–art digital mammography system dedicated to development of new applications and a wellequipped digital image processing and display laboratory.