Research ArticleCANCER

Fast label-free multilayered histology-like imaging of human breast cancer by photoacoustic microscopy

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Science Advances  17 May 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 5, e1602168
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602168


The goal of breast-conserving surgery is to completely remove all of the cancer. Currently, no intraoperative tools can microscopically analyze the entire lumpectomy specimen, which results in 20 to 60% of patients undergoing second surgeries to achieve clear margins. To address this critical need, we have laid the foundation for the development of a device that could allow accurate intraoperative margin assessment. We demonstrate that by taking advantage of the intrinsic optical contrast of breast tissue, photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) can achieve multilayered histology-like imaging of the tissue surface. The high correlation of the PAM images to the conventional histologic images allows rapid computations of diagnostic features such as nuclear size and packing density, potentially identifying small clusters of cancer cells. Because PAM does not require tissue processing or staining, it can be performed promptly and intraoperatively, enabling immediate directed re-excision and reducing the number of second surgeries.

  • Label-free
  • multi-layer
  • histology
  • unprocessed tissue
  • human breast cancer
  • photoacoustic imaging
  • margin analysis

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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