Researchers at the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) have developed a system to treat breast cancer that reduces skin burns, eliminates scarring and causes few side effects, the institute said on Monday.
The system consists of a ring-shaped high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) transducer, a commercial power amplifier, a mechanical positioner and graphical user-interface control software, it said.
HIFU ablation is a non-invasive therapeutic technique that uses non-ionizing ultrasonic waves to heat or ablate tissues, such as tumors, and requires no surgery.
It has emerged in the past few years as a non-invasive treatment for breast cancer.
Chen Gin-shin (陳景欣), who heads a research team at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Nanomedicine, said the system was developed to overcome several problems associated with conventional HIFU procedures, such as skin burns.
The new system reduces treatment time and improves high-precision ablation under imaging guidance, and the ring-shaped transducer can minimize damage to chest tissue, the lungs and the heart, Chen said.
The ablation of a 5cm tumor can take 30 minutes using the new system, he added.
The removal of a 3cm to 5cm cancerous tumor using a conventional HIFU transducer can take up to two hours, he said.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer type among women in Taiwan, the NHRI said, adding that clinical treatment comprises surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and combination therapy.
However, women with breast cancer can experience complications, a high re-excision rate, and possible side effects from radiotherapy and chemotherapy, while some need breast reconstruction after tissue removal, it said.
Although the HIFU procedure has become popular among patients, about 30 to 40 percent of them experience musculoskeletal or heart burns, the NHRI said.
NHRI president Liang Kung-yee (梁賡義) said it is seeking partners for technical transfer so that the prototype system could reach the mass market.
The NHRI’s research findings have been published by the IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control.
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