Rupnagar The Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Ropar, has proposed a technique for early detection of breast cancer in women of all ages, including pregnant or nursing women, irrespective of the breast type (either fatty or dense breast).A novel pulse compression favourable active infrared thermography makes use of infrared emission emanating from the breast to detect hidden tumours inside it at very early stage for predefined thermal stimulus (a stimulus produced by a change in skin temperature) on a breast under examination.IIT Ropar Infrared Imaging Laboratory (IRIL) associate professor Dr Ravibabu Mulaveesala is leading the team of researchers working on the technique. A research paper on ‘Applicability of active infrared thermography for screening of human breast: A numerical study’ has been published in Journal of Biomedical Optics.Dr Ravibabu Mulaveesala said Infrared Thermography (IRT) is a fast, painless, non-contact and non-invasive imaging method, complementary to mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging methods for early diagnosis of breast cancer.He said widely used mammography showed its limitations in detecting tumours present in the dense breast. Dense breasts had less fat and more gland tissue in comparison to the fatty breasts which restricts mammography to detect tumours with confidence. Especially for the tumours situated in the gland region of breast due to the insignificant density variations between the gland and tumour regions, mammography fails to provide enough radiographic contrast between the tumour location and healthy region of the breast.This limits the applicability of mammography in screening of dense breasts. Also, mammography provides discomfort to the patient and exposure to harmful ionising radiation further restricts its applicability. However, the present active IRT technique outperforms the standard method of mammography by providing patient friendly breast screening, Dr Ravibabu Mulaveesala said.“Following success of research predictions of our group at Infrared Imaging Laboratory (IRIL), we are now working towards the development of portable, low cost, an active infrared screening system, which will provide an early detection of breast cancer irrespective of patient’s age, size, type of breast (either fatty or dense)and it’s stage,” he added.