Cancer Informatics

Quantitative Study of Thermal Disturbances Due to Nonuniformly Perfused Tumors in Peripheral Regions of Women’s Breast

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Cancer Informatics 2017:16 1176935117700894

Original Research

Published on 15 May 2017

DOI: 10.1177/1176935117700894

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Mathematical modeling of biothermal processes is widely used to enhance the quantitative understanding of thermoregulation system of human body organs. This quantitative knowledge of thermal information of various human body organs can be used for developing clinical applications. In the past, investigators have studied thermal distribution in hemisphere-shaped human breast in the presence of sphere-shaped tumor. The shape and size of the breast as well as tumor may also affect thermal distribution which can have serious implications in thermography. In this article, a model of thermal disturbances in peripheral regions of ellipsoid-shaped human breast involving ellipse-shaped nonuniformly perfused tumor has been developed for a 2-dimensional steady-state case. The modeling study will provide biomedical scientists vital insights of thermal changes occurring due to the shape and size of breast and tumor which can influence the development of protocols of thermography for diagnosis of tumors in women’s breast.


We have incorporated the significant parameters such as blood flow, metabolic activity, and thermal conductivity in the thermal model for normal and malignant tissues. The controlled metabolic activity has been incorporated for normal tissues, and uncontrolled metabolic activity has been incorporated for tumor regions. The peripheral regions of breast are divided into 3 major layers, namely, epidermis, dermis, and subdermal tissues. An ellipse-shaped nonuniformly perfused tumor is assumed to be present in dermal layers. The nonuniformly perfused tumor is divided into 2 natural components, namely, the necrotic core and tumor periphery. The outer surface of the breast is assumed to be exposed to the environment, and the heat loss takes place by conduction, convection, radiation, and evaporation. The finite element approach is used to obtain the solution. The numerical results have been used to study the effect of shape and size of tumor on temperature distribution in matured breast of different shapes.


By selecting appropriate model parameters, we have shown the spatial thermal variation in matured breast of different shapes which could be replicated by the proposed model. We have also shown the thermal disturbances caused by different shapes and sizes of tumors by selecting appropriate values of parameters. In addition, the thermal information from our model provides us the basis for prediction of shape and size of tumors in terms of change of the slope of temperature profiles at the junction of tumor and normal tissues and tumor periphery and tumor core.


The proposed model was successfully used to study the impact of different sizes and shapes of nonuniformly perfused tumor on thermograms in peripheral regions of ellipse-shaped woman’s breast. The proposed model is more realistic in terms of shape and size of tumors and woman’s breast in comparison with earlier models reported in the literature. The finite element discretization of breast into large number of triangular ring elements effectively models the heterogeneity of region. The changes in slope of the thermal curves at the junctions of various peripheral and tumor layers are due to the nonhomogeneous nature of the region. The location of major thermal disturbances in the tissues indicates the presence of tumor. The change in the slope of the thermal curves gives us idea about the position, type, and size of the tumors in the peripheral tissues. This thermal information can be exploited for detection of tumors by thermographic techniques.




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