An engineering optimization study conducted at the Cedars Breast Center of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal illustrated the sensitivity of near-infrared (NIR) optical techniques to the metabolic functions of breast tissue. Using the non-invasive SoftScan system, 49 women underwent tests resulting in statistically significant discrimination of malignant and benign tissue based on their deoxy-hemoglobin content.
In the 49-patient study, representing a wide cross-section of demographic factors, patients had either abnormal or normal mammograms before undergoing the SoftScan procedure. Patient ages ranged between 24 and 80 years and included subjects who had undergone hormone replacement therapy or hysterectomy, or had dense breasts. In all cases, imaged with suspicious masses, the optical images obtained with SoftScan were consistent with mammographic findings. Consistent differences were found between malignant and benign pathologies. Malignant lesions clearly exhibited a higher deoxy-hemoglobin content compared to surrounding tissue than benign cases. These findings are consistent with the observation that malignant tumors are more metabolically active than benign lesions.
The study results were published in the August issue of Academic Radiology.