NIH/NCI Grant Will Further Investigation of Breast Tumor Margin Assessment

Professor Magda El-Shenawee and graduate assistant, Tyler Bowman, use THz imaging technology to assess the margins of cancerous breast tumors.
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Professor Magda El-Shenawee and graduate assistant, Tyler Bowman, use THz imaging technology to assess the margins of cancerous breast tumors.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a three-year, $424,081 grant to Magda El-Shenawee, electrical engineering professor, for her work on an intraoperative and rapid method of detecting positive cancer margins during conservative breast cancer surgery, or lumpectomy.

Standard medical imaging techniques insufficiently provide clear assessment of breast tissue margins, resulting in a reported second surgery rate of 20 to 40 percent.

The grant will allow El-Shenawee's research team to advance the assessment of breast tumor margins using new Terahertz imaging technology, which will provide the groundwork for fast, intraoperative tumor margin assessment and significantly reduce the occurrence of second surgeries, cancer reoccurrence and metastasis.


Investigators will image two types of tumor tissues. Pictured above, are samples of freshly excised tumors from mice.

Bowman demonstrates how images can be viewed using terahertz imaging.

"When we talk to any doctor about the tumor margins, they see issues," said El-Shenawee. "If they can't get all of the tumor in the first operation, two things can occur. Cancer can come back in the same spot, or the cancer can metastasize and spread to other organs. That is the danger of breast cancer."

Terahertz technology offers high, sub-millimeter resolution, as well as sensitivity to water content, which can be a major contrast factor in biological tissues. The researchers will focus their efforts on imaging two types of tumor tissues - one developed from phantom tissues that mimic freshly excised human tumors and the other freshly excised tumors grown in mice.

"We believe this new Terahertz technology will give us better images of the tissue than current, standard methods," El-Shenawee said.

El-Shenawee will collaborate with University of Arkansas professors Narasimhan Rajaram, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; Jingxian Wu, associate professor of electrical engineering, Avishek Chakraborty, assistant professor of mathematical sciences; and Tyler Bowman, doctoral student in electrical engineering. Bowman is an NSF Graduate Fellow and University of Arkansas Distinguished Doctoral Fellow. El-Shenawee will also collaborate with Keith Bailey, director of the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Oklahoma State University; and with Lucas Campbell, M.D., pathologist at Northwest Arkansas Pathology Associates in Fayetteville.

Contacts

Magda El-Shenawee, professor
Department of Electrical Engineering
479-575-4037, magda@uark.edu

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

Sierra Mendoza, administrative specialist
Department of Electrical Engineering
479-575-3005, smendoza@uark.edu


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