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NPL and UKRI investment for innovation in time resilience, dissemination and application.
Funding of up to £4.7 million available through joint initiative, call for applications now open.


Pioneering less invasive breast cancer diagnosis

The need

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with 62,000 women being diagnosed each year. Current diagnosis relies on uncomfortable X-ray mammography, followed up by biopsy. Of all the lesions investigated, around 30% result in a malignant diagnosis, meaning that 70% of investigations are unnecessary. Conventional mammograms are also less likely to detect breast cancer in younger or Asian populations, who have denser breast tissue.

The impact

We are developing an ultrasound screening platform, which is currently undergoing clinical demonstration. This doesn't use X-rays (so the patient isn't exposed to radiation) and the screening is carried out with the breast submerged in warm water, without compression, which is a more comfortable experience for the patient. Its capability to better differentiate tissue properties should then ensure more accurate diagnosis.

This technique enables a standardised high-quality image without the need for highly-skilled operators, that has the added advantage of costing less.