Terahertz Spectroscopy and Imaging: A Cutting-Edge Method for Diagnosing Digestive Cancers

Materials (Basel). 2019 May 9;12(9):1519. doi: 10.3390/ma12091519.


The Terahertz's wavelength is located between the microwave and the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Because it is non-ionizing and non-invasive, Terahertz (THz)-based detection represents a very attractive tool for repeated assessments, patient monitoring, and follow-up. Cancer acts as the second leading cause of death in many regions, and current predictions estimate a continuous increasing trend. Of all types of tumors, digestive cancers represent an important percentage and their incidence is expected to increase more rapidly than other tumor types due to unhealthy lifestyle habits. Because it can precisely differentiate between different types of molecules, depending on water content, the information obtained through THz-based scanning could have several uses in the management of cancer patients and, more importantly, in the early detection of different solid tumors. The purpose of this manuscript is to offer a comprehensive overview of current data available on THz-based detection for digestive cancers. It summarizes the characteristics of THz waves and their interaction with tissues and subsequently presents available THz-based technologies (THz spectroscopy, THz-tomography, and THZ-endoscope) and their potential for future clinical use. The third part of the review is focused on highlighting current in vitro and in vivo research progress in the field, for identifying specific digestive cancers known as oral, esophageal, gastric, colonic, hepatic, and pancreatic tumors.

Keywords: cancer diagnosis; digestive cancer; screening; terahertz endoscopy; terahertz spectroscopy; terahertz tomography.

Publication types

  • Review