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Med Eng Phys. 2003 Mar;25(2):79-90.

A review of electrical impedance techniques for breast cancer detection.

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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The George Washington University, 801 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA.


Some evidence has been found that malignant breast tumors have lower electrical impedance than surrounding normal tissues. Although the separation of malignant tumors from benign lesions based on impedance measurements needs further investigation, electrical impedance could be used as an indicator for breast cancer detection. In this paper, we provide a systematic technical review of the existing electrical impedance techniques proposed for breast cancer detection, with an emphasis on noninvasive impedance imaging techniques. The electrical impedance of human breast tissue is first introduced, with tabulation of previous in vitro impedance measurement results on cancerous and normal breast tissues, and a brief description on the limited in vivo impedance measurements completed with invasive, or noninvasive, non-imaging techniques. A detailed review on noninvasive impedance imaging techniques for breast cancer detection, such as electrical impedance tomography (EIT) and electrical impedance mapping (EIM), is then presented. We suggest that for better breast cancer detection, an invasive impedance technique may be enhanced by combination with other cancer indicators. 3D EIT should be improved through collective efforts. EIM using a pair of electrode arrays is a viable method with great potential. Magnetic induction tomography and other magnetic induction based impedance imaging for breast cancer detection are promising and merit further exploration as well.

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