Device Discovery

FastPath Residual Cancer Probe

Photo Credit: Adam Ryan Morris/Milwaukee Magazine

Aurora Health Care is partnering with Dr. William Gregory, professor of electrical engineering at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and the Milwaukee-based company, NovaScan, to develop the FastPath Residual Cancer Probe – a novel breast cancer detection device.

FastPath resembles a wand and sends electrical signals through breast tissue. FastPath began its scientific life as EPET (Electrical Property Enhanced Tomography) and is the result of a discovery process that illustrates the effectiveness of using electronic technology to study the electrical properties of breast tissue.

By developing FastPath, the partnership hopes to aid pathologists in measuring the location of a tumor from the edge of resected tissue, or help surgeons at the time of operation determine if cancer cells have been left behind in a wound after cancer surgery. This would provide the surgeon with immediate knowledge of surgical margins that would allow him/her to remove more or less tissue, if necessary, to obtain clear margins.  The technology may also improve tumor cell detection when compared to other tests used for breast cancer screening, without the use of X-rays.

The FastPath device scans all of the tissue in a selected area of the breast – normal tissue, benign and malignant cancer cells, cysts, and other lesions – and detects the comparative difference between signals that are reflected. The difference in the signals emitted from cancerous tissue versus normal tissue allows for the FastPath device to detect the location of tumors.

Over time, FastPath will allow doctors to see the difference between malignant and benign tumors without using X-rays – a faster, more cost-effective and more patient-friendly cancer detection method. Ultimately, FastPath will help determine if they have removed all cancerous tissue from the breast.

This study is being developed through lab tests on breast tissue samples surgically removed from cancer patients as part of standard care. The measured values are compared to final pathology results. Patients must give their consent in order for researchers to scan the tissue.

To learn more about the development of FastPath and Aurora’s other efforts to improve cancer detection, contact the Comprehensive Breast Care Center at Aurora Sinai Medical Center.