Journal of biomedical optics

Noninvasive enhanced mid-IR imaging of breast cancer development in vivo.

PMID 26524680


Lumpectomy coupled with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy is commonly used to treat breast cancer patients. We are developing an enhanced thermal IR imaging technique that has the potential to provide real-time imaging to guide tissue excision during a lumpectomy by delineating tumor margins. This enhanced thermal imaging method is a combination of IR imaging (8 to 10  μm ) and selective heating of blood (∼0.5°C ) relative to surrounding water-rich tissue using LED sources at low powers. Postacquisition processing of these images highlights temporal changes in temperature and the presence of vascular structures. In this study, fluorescent, standard thermal, and enhanced thermal imaging modalities, as well as physical caliper measurements, were used to monitor breast cancer tumor volumes over a 30-day study period in 19 mice implanted with 4T1-RFP tumor cells. Tumor volumes calculated from fluorescent imaging follow an exponential growth curve for the first 22 days of the study. Cell necrosis affected the tumor volume estimates based on the fluorescent images after day 22. The tumor volumes estimated from enhanced thermal imaging, standard thermal imaging, and caliper measurements all show exponential growth over the entire study period. A strong correlation was found between tumor volumes estimated using fluorescent imaging, standard IR imaging, and caliper measurements with enhanced thermal imaging, indicating that enhanced thermal imaging monitors tumor growth. Further, the enhanced IR images reveal a corona of bright emission along the edges of the tumor masses associated with the tumor margin. In the future, this IR technique might be used to estimate tumor margins in real time during surgical procedures.