Breast cancer is currently the most prevalent form of cancer in women with over 266,000 new diagnoses every year. The various methods used for breast cancer screening range in accuracy and cost, however there is no easily reproducible, reliable, low-cost screening method currently available for detecting cancer in breasts, especially with dense tissue. Steady-state Infrared Imaging (IRI) is unaffected by tissue density and has the potential to detect tumors in the breast by measuring and capturing the thermal profile on the breast surface induced by increased blood perfusion and metabolic activity in a rapidly growing malignant tumor. The current work presents a better understanding of IRI as an accurate breast cancer detection modality. A detailed study utilizing IRI-MRI approach with clinical design and validation of an elaborate IRI-Mammo study are presented by considering patient population, clinical study design, image interpretation, and recommended future path. Clinical IRI images are obtained in this study and an ANSYS-based modeling process developed earlier at RIT is used to localize and detect tumor in seven patients without subjective human interpretation. Further, the unique thermal characteristics of tumors that make their signatures distinct from benign conditions are identified.

This work is part of an ongoing multidisciplinary collaboration between a team of thermal engineers and numerical modelers at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a team of clinicians at the Rochester General Hospital. The following components were developed to ensure valid experimentation while considering ethical considerations: IRB documentation, patient protocols, an image acquisition system (camera setup and screening table), and the necessary tools needed for image analysis without human interpretation. IRI images in the prone position were obtained and were used in accurately detecting the presence of a cancerous tumor in seven subjects. The size and location of tumor was also confirmed within 7 mm as compared to biopsy-proven pathology information. The study indicates that the IRI-Mammo approach has potential to be a highly effective adjunctive screening tool that can improve the breast cancer detection rates especially for subjects with dense breast tissue. This method is low cost, no-touch, radiation-free and highly portable, making it an attractive candidate as a breast cancer detection modality. Further, the developed method provided insight into infrared features corresponding to other biological images, pathology reports and patient history.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Breast--Cancer--Diagnosis; Infrared imaging; Diagnostic imaging; Tumors--Thermal properties

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Engineering (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

Engineering (KGCOE)


Satish Kandlikar

Advisor/Committee Member

Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard

Advisor/Committee Member

Ke Du


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes