Satellite Processing Helps
Combat Breast Cancer
Washington, D.C. -- Doctors and medical technicians,
in their battle against breast cancer, can now employ
tools used by intelligence analysts.
The tools involve advanced imagery processing
techniques used in reviewing images gathered by spy satellites.
The technology was developed by the National
Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which is responsible for designing,
building, and operating U.S. reconnaissance satellites. The NRO is
a member off the Intelligence Community, consisting of 13 Defense
and independent agencies who gather and analyze intelligence.
The techniques align satellite images of the same
target area. Analysts use them to detect changes in facilities, roads,
weapons, sites, and other areas of interest. The images, like photos
or x-rays, are aligned and then digitally analyzed. This process allows
imagery analysts to determine differences or changes in the
location under surveillance.
Radiologists have a similar "needle-in-the-haystack"
problem -- trying to find very small cancers in mammograms. The
medical community has combined its own Computer Assisted
Diagnosis (CAD) tools with intelligence technology, resulting in
significant improvement in detecting tumors and reducing the
false-alarm rate. This development should help accelerate the
clinical acceptance and use of these computerized tools, which will
help catch cancers earlier and potentially save lives.
Through the U.S. Intelligence Community, the NRO
working with the Department of Health and Human Services, under
the leadership of Dr. Susan J. Blumenthal, Deputy Assistant
Secretary for Health (Women's Health), to expedite the
transfer of this technology to the medical community. The
National Information Display Lab (NIDL) is facilitating the
transfer and broadening the search for other intelligence tools that
could benefit the medical community. The NIDL is sponsored by
the NRO and is chartered to support the Intelligence Community
as a whole.