Optical Biopsy To Diagnose And Characterize Cancer

Combining multiple photonic imaging techniques could lead to novel, noninvasive tumor detection, and evaluation approaches. Rising cancer incidence will require new techniques to provide diagnostically relevant information quickly and reliably. Researchers believe that optical biopsy could be crucial in diagnosing and characterizing cancer.

Less-invasive optical imaging could significantly benefit both clinicians and patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). High-resolution imaging could determine a lesion’s status without tissue removal for early tumor diagnosis. In the operating room, imaging capable of quickly detecting the tumor’s extent would significantly improve surgical guidance.

In terms of volume elements (voxels) imaged per second, optical coherence tomography (OCT) is currently the fastest method, while X-ray tomography is the slowest. An all-optical biopsy will not rely on a single imaging modality but a clever combination of several approaches. Combining different imaging modalities of different imaging speeds and tissue penetration is possible. One such approach would be to combine OCT or fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) with Raman.

Multimodal nonlinear imaging for an optical biopsy begins with the investigation of a thin tissue section via laser scanning microscopy. Real-time optical tools for surgical guidance offer a diffraction-limited spatial resolution of subcellular structures. They could significantly improve the precision of laser surgery, preserve functional structures and reduce side effects. However, validating the tools against standard diagnostics in clinical trials is essential.

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