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Characterization of architectural tissue features such as the shape, margin, and size of a suspicious lesion is commonly performed in conjunction with medical imaging to provide clues about the nature of an abnormality. In this paper, we numerically investigate the feasibility of using multichannel microwave backscatter in the 1-11 GHz band to classify the salient features of a dielectric target. We consider targets with three shape characteristics: smooth, microlobulated, and spiculated; and four size categories ranging from 0.5 to 2 cm in diameter. The numerical target constructs are based on Gaussian random spheres allowing for moderate shape irregularities. We perform shape and size classification for a range of signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) to demonstrate the potential for tumor characterization based on ultrawideband (UWB) microwave backscatter. We approach classification with two basis selection methods from the literature: local discriminant bases and principal component analysis. Using these methods, we construct linear classifiers where a subset of the bases expansion vectors are the input features and we evaluate the average rate of correct classification as a performance measure. We demonstrate that for 10 dB SNR, the target size is very reliably classified with over 97% accuracy averaged over 360 targets; target shape is classified with over 70% accuracy. The relationship between the SNR of the test data and classifier performance is also explored. The results of this study are very encouraging and suggest that both shape and size characteristics of a dielectric target can be classified directly from its UWB backscatter. Hence, characterization can easily be performed in conjunction with UWB radar-based breast cancer detection without requiring any special hardware or additional data collection.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2008