Assessing lesion malignancy by scanning small-angle x-ray scattering of breast tissue with microcalcifications
Journal article, 2019

Scanning small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements were performed on 36 formalin-fixed breast tissue biopsies obtained from two patients. All samples contained microcalcifications of type II, i.e. formed by hydroxyapatite. We demonstrate the feasibility of classifying breast lesions by scanning SAXS of tissues containing microcalcifications with a resolution of 35 mu m x 30 mu m We report a characteristic Bragg peak found around q = 1.725 nm(-1) that occurs primarily for malignant lesions. Such a clear SAXS fingerprint is potentially linked to structural changes of breast tissue and corresponds to dimensions of about 3.7 nm. This material property could be used as an early indicator of malignancy development, as it is readily assessed by SAXS. If this fingerprint is combined with other known SAXS features, which also indicate the level of malignancy, such as lipid spacing and collagen periodicity, it could complement traditional pathology-based analyses. To confirm the SAXS-based classification, a histopathological workup and a gold standard histopathological diagnosis were conducted to determine the malignancy level of the lesions. Our aim is to report this SAXS fingerprint, which is clearly related to malignant breast lesions. However, any further conclusion based on our dataset is limited by the low number of patients and samples. Running a broad study to increase the number of samples and patients is of great importance and relevance for the breast-imaging community.

breast micro calcifications

small-angle x-ray scattering

breast cancer

breast lesion diagnosis


C. Arboled

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Paul Scherrer Institut

V Lutz-Buen

Paul Scherrer Institut

Z. Wang

Paul Scherrer Institut

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

P. Villanueva-Perez

Paul Scherrer Institut

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY)

M. Guizar-Sicairos

Paul Scherrer Institut

Marianne Liebi

Chalmers, Physics, Materials Physics

Z. Varga

University Hospital of Zürich

M. Stampanoni

Paul Scherrer Institut

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Physics in Medicine and Biology

0031-9155 (ISSN) 13616560 (eISSN)

Vol. 64 15 155010

Subject Categories

Clinical Laboratory Medicine


Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging





More information

Latest update