On the Feasibility of Breast Cancer Imaging Systems at Millimeter-Waves Frequencies

Simona Di Meo, Pedro Fidel Espín-López, Andrea Martellosio, Marco Pasian, Giulia Matrone, Maurizio Bozzi, Giovanni Magenes, Andrea Mazzanti, Luca Perregrini, Francesco Svelto, Paul Eugene Summers, Giuseppe Renne, Lorenzo Preda, Massimo Bellomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medical imaging currently relies on several techniques, including X-rays, magnetic resonance, and echography. However, these techniques exhibit drawbacks, and alternative approaches are required. Microwave imaging has been proposed as a possible solution, especially for breast cancer imaging. However, most of these systems work with a central frequency of a few gigahertz, and this leads to a suboptimum resolution, which can jeopardize the image quality. Millimeter waves can provide superior resolutions, at the cost of a lower penetration depth within the breast tissue. In addition, a significant fraction of the power generated by a mm-wave imaging system would be reflected back from the skin. For these reasons, and also considering that mm-wave transmitters and receivers have been historically outperformed by microwave counterparts in terms of available power and sensitivity, mm-wave imaging has not been considered a possible solution. This paper contributes to demonstrate a paradigm shift toward the possible use of mm-waves for breast cancer imaging of targets a few centimeter below the skin, a useful penetration depth for several cases. All key points are addressed using analytical, full-wave, and multiphysics simulations, including the system architecture (linear and conformal), the safety aspects (power density, specific absorption rate, and temperature increase), and the use of realistic breast models derived from ex vivo measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7879871
Pages (from-to)1795-1806
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017


  • Antenna array
  • breast cancer
  • conformal array
  • dielectric characterization
  • dielectric properties
  • ex vivo tissues
  • microwave imaging
  • mm-wave imaging
  • multiphysics
  • power density
  • specific absorption rate (SAR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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