Research project

Breast cancer is one of the two leading causes of cancer death among women in most developed countries and the success of the treatment depends on early and precise diagnosis. Currently, two-view x-ray mammography imaging remains the main diagnostic technique used for screening women over 40 years of age. The main limitation of this method is the overlapping of breast tissue layers in the two dimensional projection images, which can produce false positive and false negative results. In recent years, the mammographic accuracy has been improved by introduction of digital breast tomosynthesis and breast-dedicated computed tomography (CT) which eliminate the problem of overlying tissues in conventional 2D images. However, the small difference in x-ray attenuation, in particular between the glandular and tumour tissues, still constitutes a problem for these methods. In recent years, the promising results has been achieved using phase-contrast x-ray imaging techniques (such as propagation-based phase-contrast CT). These methods use information not only about absorption, but also refraction of x-rays in the body. Phase-contrast methods provide 3D images with better contrast-to-noise ratio compared to standard x-ray imaging techniques. Importantly, these results can be achieved with smaller radiation doses delivered to the breast.

The main purpose of this project is optimization of the main parameters of the PB-CT technique, which is necessary for translation of this method into clinical practice. For this reason, several studies were conducted at the synchrotron radiation for medical physics (SYRMEP) beamline of Elettra synchrotron and at the imaging and medical beamline (IMBL) of the Australian Synchrotron.