Diagnostic trends in medicine are being directed toward cellular and molecular processes, where treatment regimens are more amenable for cure. Optical imaging is capable of performing cellular and molecular imaging using the short wavelengths and spectroscopic properties of light. Diffuse optical tomography is an optical imaging technique that has been pursued as an alternative to X-ray mammography. While this technique permits non-invasive optical imaging of the whole breast, to date it is incapable of resolving features at the cellular level. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an emerging high-resolution biomedical imaging technology that for larger and undifferentiated cells can perform cellular-level imaging at the expense of imaging depth. OCT performs optical ranging in tissue and is analogous to ultrasound except reflections of near-infrared light are detected rather than sound. In this paper, an overview of the OCT technology is provided, followed by images demonstrating the feasibility of using OCT to image cellular features indicative of breast cancer. OCT images of a well-established carcinogen-induced rat mammary tumor model were acquired. Images from this common experimental model show strong correlation with corresponding histopathology. These results illustrate the potential of OCT for a wide range of basic research studies and for intra-operative image-guidance to identify foci of tumor cells within surgical margins during the surgical treatment of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Breast cancer imaging
  • Image-guided surgery
  • MNU-induced carcinogenesis
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Optical imaging
  • Rat mammary tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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