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Photoacoustics Promising for Cervical Cancer Assessment

Mar 2015
CHANGSHA, China — Photoacoustic imaging could one day provide a quicker and less invasive alternative to current methods for detecting cervical cancer.

Following a study of 30 cervical tissue samples, researchers at Central South University in China said the technique shows promise for detecting the presence and severity of cancerous lesions.

“The technique is noninvasive and can detect the lesions in the cervical canal, an area conventional methods fail to observe,” said professor Dr. Jiaying Xiao. “The photoacoustic imaging can also evaluate the invasion depth of cervical lesions more effectively.”

The top row shows photographs of cervical tissue samples, with healthy tissue outlined in green and abnormal tissue outlined in red. The bottom row shows photoacoustic DMAPs of the same samples, revealing cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia in the first two and varying stages of cervical cancer in the next three. Courtesy of Biomedical Optics Express.

Tumors are often characterized by the abnormal formation of new blood vessels, which results in higher hemoglobin concentration in cancerous tissue than in healthy tissue. This makes hemoglobin a useful contrast agent for photoacoustic imaging.

Photoacoustic imaging data from the samples were processed with computer programs to obtain 2-D depth maximum amplitude projections (DMAPs), which showed the optical absorption distribution.

“Statistical results also show that the mean optical absorption (MOA) of the cervical lesions is closely related to the severity of cervical cancer,” Xiao said.

Xiao said his group’s goal is to develop an endoscopic photoacoustic imaging probe that can scan the cervical canal.

The work was published in Biomedical Optics Express (10.1364/BOE.6.000135).

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