'Human Touch' sensor could improve breast cancer detection

'Human Touch' sensor could improve breast cancer detection

Calendar Icon Sep 10, 2014          RSS Feed RSS

Ravi Saraf , Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, left,  and post-doc Chieu Nguyen, holding up a thin membrane on a slide cover, have perfected a thin film which can detect small and deeply embedded cancerous tumors.
Ravi Saraf , Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, left, and post-doc Chieu Nguyen, holding up a thin membrane on a slide cover, have perfected a thin film which can detect small and deeply embedded cancerous tumors.

Ravi Saraf, professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering professor, joined with post-doc Chieu Van Nguyen to develop a nanoparticle-based devise that emulates human touch and could significantly enhance clinical breast examinations for the early detection of cancer.

In an article published in the most recent edition of the journal ACS Advanced Materials & Interfaces, Saraf and Nguyen describe their thin-film sensor that can detect tumors that are too small and deep to be felt with human fingers.

The film, just one-60th the thickness of a human hair, is a sort of "electronic skin" able to sense texture and relative stiffness. The film was used to successfully detect tumors as small as 5 millimeters and hidden up to 20 millimeters deep.

Typically, manual breast exams don't find lumps until they are 21 millimeters, while the American Cancer Society reports a 94 percent survival rate if breast cancer is diagnosed when tumors are diagnosed at less than 10 millimeters.

Full story