Imaging modalities play an important role in the clinical management of cancer, including screening, diagnosis, treatment planning and therapy monitoring. Owing to increased research efforts during the past two decades, photoacoustic imaging (a non-ionizing, noninvasive technique capable of visualizing optical absorption properties of tissue at reasonable depth, with the spatial resolution of ultrasound) has emerged. Ultrasound-guided photoacoustics is noted for its ability to provide in vivo morphological and functional information about the tumor within the surrounding tissue. With the recent advent of targeted contrast agents, photoacoustics is now also capable of in vivo molecular imaging, thus facilitating further molecular and cellular characterization of cancer. This review examines the role of photoacoustics and photoacoustic-augmented imaging techniques in comprehensive cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment guidance.
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