Microvascular blood flow contrast is an important hemodynamic and metabolic parameter with potential to enhance in vivo breast cancer detection and therapy monitoring. Here we report on non-invasive line-scan measurements of malignant breast tumors with a hand-held optical probe in the remission geometry. The probe employs diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS), a near-infrared optical method that quantifies deep tissue microvascular blood flow. Tumor-to-normal perfusion ratios are derived from thirty-two human subjects. Mean (95% confidence interval) tumor-to-normal ratio using surrounding normal tissue was 2.25 (1.92-2.63); tumor-to-normal ratio using normal tissues at the corresponding tumor location in the contralateral breast was 2.27 (1.94-2.66), and using normal tissue in the contralateral breast was 2.27 (1.90-2.70). Thus, the mean tumor-to-normal ratios were significantly different from unity irrespective of the normal tissue chosen, implying that tumors have significantly higher blood flow than normal tissues. Therefore, the study demonstrates existence of breast cancer contrast in blood flow measured by DCS. The new, optically accessible cancer contrast holds potential for cancer detection and therapy monitoring applications, and it is likely to be especially useful when combined with diffuse optical spectroscopy/tomography.
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