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Phys Med Biol. 2002 Feb 21;47(4):577-92.

Small-angle x-ray scattering studies of human breast tissue samples.

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  • 1Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) patterns are recorded from thin breast tissue samples containing healthy and cancerous regions. The SAXS patterns are compared with histo-pathological observations. The information available from SAXS is reviewed, and a model for scattering from collagen is presented. Scattering patterns of collagen at regions far from the tumours are essentially different from those at tumours. The axial period of collagen fibrils is 65.0 +/- 0.1 nm in healthy regions, and 0.3 nm larger in cancer-invaded regions. The average intensity of scattering from cancerous regions is an order of magnitude higher than the intensity from healthy regions. This is interpreted to arise from an increase of the specific surface area of the scatterers, which is due to a disruption of the molecular and supra-molecular structures in cancerous regions and invasion of new types of cells. The differences of the SAXS patterns are large and distinctive enough to suggest that these phenomena may be utilized in mammography.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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