Optical biomarkers for breast cancer derived from dynamic diffuse optical tomography

Molly L. Flexman, Hyun K. Kim, Jacqueline E. Gunther, Emerson A. Lim, Maria C. Alvarez, Elise Desperito, Kevin Kalinsky, Dawn L. Hershman, Andreas H. Hielscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diffuse optical tomography (DOT) is a noninvasive, nonionizing imaging modality that uses near-infrared light to visualize optically relevant chromophores. A recently developed dynamic DOT imaging system enables the study of hemodynamic effects in the breast during a breath-hold. Dynamic DOT imaging was performed in a total of 21 subjects (age 54 ± 10 years) including 3 healthy subjects and 18 subjects with benign (n = 8) and malignant (n = 14) masses. Three-dimensional time-series images of the percentage change in oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin concentrations ([HbO2] and [Hb]) from baseline are obtained over the course of a breath-hold. At a time point of 15 s following the end of the breath-hold, [Hb] in healthy breasts has returned to near-baseline values (1.6% ± 0.5%), while tumor-bearing breasts have increased levels of [Hb] (6.8% ± 3.6%, p < 0.01). Further, healthy subjects have a higher correlation between the breasts over the course of the breath-hold as compared with the subjects with breast cancer (healthy: 0.96 ± 0.02; benign: 0.89 ± 0.02; malignant: 0.78 ± 0.23, p > 0.05). Therefore this study shows that dynamic features extracted from DOT measurements can differentiate healthy and diseased breast tissues. These features provide a physiologic method for identifying breast cancer without the need for ionizing radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number096012
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013


  • Diffuse optical tomography
  • breast cancer
  • digital diffuse optical imaging
  • dynamic optical imaging
  • optical breast imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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