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Opt Express. 2009 Jul 20;17(15):12444-54.

Terahertz pulsed spectroscopy of freshly excised human breast cancer.

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  • 1Semiconductor Physics Group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, JJ Thompson Ave., Cambridge, CB3 0HE, UK.


The complex refractive indices of freshly excised healthy breast tissue and breast cancers collected from 20 patients were measured in the range of 0.15 - 2.0 THz using a portable terahertz pulsed transmission spectrometer. Histology was performed to classify the tissue samples as healthy adipose tissue, healthy fibrous breast tissue, or breast cancers. The average complex refractive index was determined for each group and it was found that samples containing cancer had a higher refractive index and absorption coefficient. The terahertz properties of the tissues were also used to simulate the impulse response functions expected when imaging breast tissue in a reflection geometry as in terahertz pulsed imaging (TPI). Our results indicate that both TPS and TPI can be used to distinguish between healthy adipose breast tissue, healthy fibrous breast tissue and breast cancer due to the differences in the fundamental optical properties.

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