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Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2005 Oct;4(5):497-512.

NIR spectroscopic detection of breast cancer.

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University of Pennsylvania, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 250 Anatomy-Chemistry Bldg., Philadelphia, PA 19104-6059, USA.


Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) utilizes intrinsic optical absorption signals of blood, water, and lipid concentration available in the NIR window (600-1000 nm) as well as a developing array of extrinsic organic compounds to detect and localize cancer. This paper reviews optical cancer detection made possible through high tumor-tissue signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and providing biochemical and physiological data in addition to those obtained via other methods. NIRS detects cancers in vivo through a combination of blood volume and oxygenation from measurements of oxy- and deoxy-hemoglobin giving signals of tumor angiogenesis and hypermetabolism. The Chance lab tends towards CW breast cancer systems using manually scannable detectors with calibrated low pressure tissue contact. These systems calculate angiogenesis and hypermetabolism by using a pair of wavelengths and referencing the mirror image position of the contralateral breast to achieve high ROC/AUC. Time domain and frequency domain spectroscopy were also used to study similar intrinsic breast tumor characteristics such as high blood volume. Other NIRS metrics are water-fat ratio and the optical scattering coefficient. An extrinsic FDA approved dye, ICG, has been used to measure blood pooling with extravasation, similar to Gadolinium in MRI. A key future development in NIRS will be new Molecular Beacons targeting cancers and fluorescing in the NIR window to enhance in vivo tumor-tissue ratios and to afford biochemical specificity with the potential for effective photodynamic anti-cancer therapies.

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