Microwave detection of metastasized breast cancer cells in the lymph node; potential application for sentinel lymphadenectomy

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Metastasis is the leading cause of death in breast cancer patients and an appropriate detection of metastasis can provide better prognosis and quality treatments. Microwaves can reveal the unique electromagnetic properties of materials, and this study aims to unleash the electromagnetic properties of breast cancer cells, especially, metastasized cancer cells in the lymph nodes, using broad-band microwaves in attempts to detect metastases. To distinguish the cancer-specific patterns of cancer tissues, three primary microwave parameters were assessed, i.e., permittivity in mid-band frequency (3-5 GHz), conductivity in high-band frequencies (25-30 GHz) and slope changes of permittivity at high-band frequencies (15-30 GHz). An additional parameter, Cancer Metastasis Index (CMI), was developed to effectively represent all parameters. Broadband microwave scanning can reveal cancer specific electromagnetic behaviors in all three parameters, and these were reliably reflected by CMI. CMI effectively magnified the difference of the electromagnetic properties between normal nodal tissues and cancer tissues. In addition, immunohistochemistries were performed to verify the origin of electromagnetic changes represented by CMI values.

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