Distinguishing tumor from normal glandular breast tissue is an important step in breast-conserving surgery. Because this distinction can be challenging in the operative setting, up to 40% of patients require an additional operation when traditional approaches are used. Here, we present a proof-of-concept study to determine the feasibility of using desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry imaging (DESI-MSI) for identifying and differentiating tumor from normal breast tissue. We show that tumor margins can be identified using the spatial distributions and varying intensities of different lipids. Several fatty acids, including oleic acid, were more abundant in the cancerous tissue than in normal tissues. The cancer margins delineated by the molecular images from DESI-MSI were consistent with those margins obtained from histological staining. Our findings prove the feasibility of classifying cancerous and normal breast tissues using ambient ionization MSI. The results suggest that an MS-based method could be developed for the rapid intraoperative detection of residual cancer tissue during breast-conserving surgery.
Keywords: FT-ICR MS; intrasurgical diagnosis; metabolites; molecular pathology.