OU 3MT 2019 Final Competition, First Place: Pratik Samant
Our next competitor, Pratik Samant, will be presenting Listening for Cancer with X-ray Induced Ultrasound (applause). PRATIK SAMANT: If we can catch breast cancer before it spreads, the survival rate of patients is 99%. Ninety-nine percent. That’s almost perfect. Yet, out of an annual 330,000 cases in the United States, 40,000 of those people are going to die. This means that we’re losing twelve times as many people to breast cancer just because we’re not catching it early enough. So, why are we missing so many cancers? The answer to this is on the left of my slide. One of our frontline diagnostic imaging tools for breast cancer is the mammogram. And this is a mammogram with a cancer present. But, where exactly is the tumor? I can’t tell, can you? Are these features that I’m looking at healthy breast tissue, or should I instead be worried? It turns out that these are incredibly difficult questions to answer even for highly trained radiologists. The reason for this is because we’re trying to look at a 3D object, the breast, using a 2D image. And when we try to do that, tissues that exist at different depths can overlap with one another and create this dense, hazy fog behind which cancer can find the perfect hiding spots. I am working to remove these hiding spots. Here’s the idea. X-ray beams can generate detectible ultrasound signals. So, wouldn’t it be nice if we could use this x-ray generated ultrasound to try to listen for cancer instead of trying to see it. Why would we do that? Well, ultrasound travels in 3D, and so if you can use x-ray induced ultrasound for imaging, you can create a 3D image of the breast at comparable resolutions to mammography. A 3D mammogram is a game changer, as tissues will no longer overlap on the final image. You can see this in action on the right of my slide. This is one of our images. This time there is no question, where’s the tumor? There it is, right in the middle of those dots, clear as day. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way that we screen for breast cancer in the clinic, and I’m working to try to bring it there so that we can try to save those 40,000 people that we’re losing every single year. Thank you (applause).