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    Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 21 July 2007 Referencing Hub media

    Dr Eli van Houten at the University of Canterbury talks about the DIET project, which is an exciting new breast cancer screening technique being developed.

    The DIET project uses digital cameras to take images at high speed of moving breast tissue. It’s known that cancer tissue is much stiffer, or less elastic, than normal tissue. The idea behind the DIET project is to capture surface data, or surface motion, and use it to determine the internal elasticity of breast tissue.


    The DIET project is a breast cancer screening technique that we are looking to develop, and we’re looking at the idea of imaging elasticity, cancer tissue is much stiffer than healthy tissue, so if you can some way image elasticity you should really see the cancer quite clearly. The problem that existing elasticity imaging techniques have is that they rely on fairly expensive medical imaging techniques such as MRI.

    So the idea behind the DIET project is to capture surface motion data and use it to determine the internal elasticity distribution in the tissue and by using digital cameras we are looking at a very cheap and inexpensive technology to capture that internal data, and yet we are still getting that very useful elasticity image in the end. So that’s - the appeal there is because its cheap it would make a good screening technique because you could afford to do it once or twice a year, but it’d be – hopefully - more effective than say a mammogram because the contrast in stiffness is so good. We are the first group to look at elasto-tomography, and when I say elasto-tomography, I mean the development of elasticity images just using this surface data, this exterior data. So that is new and unique to us at this point.