Now, screen breast cancer at home

London: A radical new portable breast scanner could soon enable women to undergo breast screening in the comfort of their homes.

The device has been designed by Zhipeng Wu of Manchester University in Britain and uses radio waves, like a microwave oven, to scan tissues for suspicious lumps.

It is shaped like a cup which can fit over a bra and has a screen which immediately flags up tumours as red dots. There is no need to apply liquid gel as used in ultrasound.

And unlike traditional mammography, the device has a high accuracy rate for women under 50, reports the Daily Mail.

Wu believes the scanners -- small enough to fit inside a lunch box -- could eventually be used at homes to allow at-risk women to continuously monitor their breast health.

They could also dramatically improve cancer monitoring and treatment in developing countries.

"The system is portable and as soon as you lie down you can get a scan - it`s real-time. The real-time imaging minimises the chance of missing a breast tumour during scanning," Wu said.

The scanner cannot distinguish between cancerous and benign tumours, which means patients would have to be referred for further tests if lumps are discovered.