Breast cancer and ultrasound

Reading Time: 2 minutes UVU professor spearheads new breast cancer technology research

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Tim Doyle, UVU physics professor, and Dr. Leigh Neumayer, a breast cancer surgeon with the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, presented to a small group of faculty, students and community members Tuesday night at a conference entitled, “Partners in Breast Cancer Breakthroughs.”


The technology and research they described involves using high-frequency ultrasound to detect cancer in tissue that has been removed from the body.


Currently, 30-50 percent of women who undergo a lumpectomy have to go back for a second surgery when the margin, or the tissue around where the tumor was removed, shows positive for cancer.


Using ultrasound, Doyle and Neumayer are able to accurately identify the margin and the cancerous tissue.


Neumayer said the machine and technique they have developed will allow tests to be done instantly, in the operating room, and would show the surgeon if the cancer was completely removed. She explained that her experiences as a surgeon have led her to understand the need for immediate testing, as many patients require additional surgeries because current margin testing takes so long.


Doyle explained how he came to be involved as a physicist. Prior to his work in cancer research and teaching at UVU, Doyle was a rocket scientist. His wife Christine Doyle said it was his work with rockets that led him to cancer research.


“He used to do non-destructive testing … using ultrasonic waves to test missile fuels,” Christine Doyle said. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, he looked at his work and thought, ‘this could probably be used to identify different cells in the body.’”


Doyle is currently working with students at UVU to further the research. He said they are very optimistic and excited about the progress of the technology. The long-term plan is to create a cost-effective machine that is both portable and efficient.


“This testing could be used for nearly all types of cancer,” Neumayer said.


Sam Rushforth, dean of College of Science and Health, expressed his appreciation for Doyle.


“His research has the near certainty to lower the number of surgical interventions women may need to cure breast cancer,” Rushforth said. “We are very fortunate to have him at our university.”