Assessment of breast cancer and response to systemic therapy before surgery using diffuse optical imaging technology

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Patients with large breast tumour or palpable lymph nodes often receive chemotherapy first, followed by surgery. During chemotherapy, a doctor performs serial breast exams and occasional imaging to monitor tumour shrinkage, but this is not good enough to capture shrinkage accurately. It is important to develop a better way to measure breast cancer response on chemotherapy before surgery, as it can predict outcomes and change treatment plans.

Diffuse Optical Imaging (DOI) takes advantage of different light scatter properties in different biological tissues (for example, normal tissue, cavities, cancer and blood have different scatter properties in infrared spectrum). Our team has developed a hand-held DOI-Scan probe (optical probe) which has shown promising preliminary findings in patients without prior diagnosis of breast cancer. 

We will use this real-time, easy-to-use, point-of-care imaging tool to examine normal breast and breast tumour characteristics in patients with locally advanced early breast cancer prior to and after each cycle of systemic therapy, alongside serial breast examinations and ultrasound imaging, to see how breast cancer appears and responds to chemotherapy given before curative surgery. The results will be compared with the final surgical specimen and patient outcomes.