Louise Cannon BSc MSc

Redefining the Role of Medical Ultrasound in Breast Screening and in symptomatic Breast Imaging 

In 2005 Louise graduated from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology with a BSc (Honours) in Physics and Instrumentation.

Subsequently she undertook further study in NUI Galway where she graduated in 2006 with a First Class Honours MSc in Medical Physics, with a project entitled “The use of Al2O3:Mn4+ & LiGa5O8:Cr3+ Crystals as Thermoluminescent Dosimeters for Ultraviolet Radiation & Blue Visible Light”.

In December 2006 she commenced postgraduate research in DIT, Kevin Street in the area of Medical Imaging Physics. The aim of her research is to redefine the role of Medical Ultrasound in Breast Screening and in Symptomatic Breast Imaging under the supervision of Dr Jacinta Browne.

Breast cancer is diagnosed in a total of 348000 cases annually in the USA and in the EC and kills almost 115000 annually (Highnam, 1999). The female breast is also prone to benign disease and it is important to differentiate between benign and malignant masses. If breast cancer is detected in its infancy it is one of the most treatable cancers, with a 95% survival rate, however, if breast cancer is detected late and the cancer has spread, the survival rate is dramatically decreased. For this reason breast screening programmes were introduced, the aim of which is to detect breast cancer in large populations of asymptomatic patients. 

Mammography is the most frequently performed breast imaging technique for breast screening, and has proven to be effective in reducing breast cancer mortality in a number of breast screening programmes. However, mammography has some shortcomings in terms of its differentiation of lesion types, its cost per examination, manpower required to carry out the examinations and time per examination as well as its use of ionising radiation.

Diagnostic ultrasound is another imaging modality used in breast screening programmes; its current role is to distinguish between solid and cystic masses. However, it has been known for a number of years that the capability of breast ultrasound is now much greater than this, largely due to advances in transducer technology and digital electronics over the last decade (Whittingham, 2000).

Diagnostic ultrasound has several advantages over mammography, it is a cheap, quick non-invasive and non-ionising imaging modality, which has the ability to provide real-time anatomical information. Furthermore, diagnostic ultrasound has the ability to provide real-time information about the blood supply (Doppler ultrasound) to the breast which has the potential to detect tumor neovascularity (vessels that supply nutrients and remove waste from the tumor).

The purpose of this study is to redefine the role of medical ultrasound in breast screening and symptomatic breast imaging.

Presentations to date

    1. Preliminary Methods for the Development of an Anthropomorphic Breast Phantom, Louise M. Cannon, Matthew Hussey, Jacinta E. Browne. Faculty of Radiologists, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Annual Scientific Meeting. Dublin 27th-29th September 2007.