Pulsed Terahertz Reflection Imaging of tumors in a spontaneous model of breast cancer

Biomed Phys Eng Express. 2018 Nov;4(6):065025. doi: 10.1088/2057-1976/aae699. Epub 2018 Oct 23.


We report the use of reflection-mode terahertz (THz) imaging in a transgenic mouse model of breast cancer. Unlike tumor xenografts that are grown from established cell lines, these tumors were spontaneously generated in the mammary fat pad of mice, and are a better representation of human breast cancer. THz imaging results from 7 tumors that recapitulate the compartmental complexity of breast cancer are presented here. Imaging was first performed on freshly excised tumors within an hour of excision and then repeated after fixation with formalin and paraffin. These THz images were then compared with histopathology to determine reflection-mode signals from specific regions within tumor. Our results demonstrate that the THz signal was consistently higher in cancerous tissue compared with fat, muscle, and fibrous tissue. Almost all tumors presented in this work demonstrated advanced stages where cancer infiltrated other tissues like fat and fibrous stroma. As the first known THz investigation in a transgenic model, these results hold promise for THz imaging at different stages of breast cancer.

Keywords: Terahertz imaging; breast cancer; pathology; reflection mode; transgenic.