Diffuse Optical Tomographic (DOT) Imaging for Diagnosis and Therapy-Monitoring of Breast Cancer

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Axial DOT images showing blood concen-tration (CtHbT) of the breast obtained from one cancer patient undergoing neo-adju-vant chemotherapy


Mirella L. Altoé, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering
NYU Tandon School of Engineering


Breast cancer is fast becoming the leading cause of mortality in women worldwide. There are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S., and about 40,000 women are expected to die from this disease. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) has become a well-established therapy in the treatment of patients with locally advanced or primarilly inoperable breast cancer. The therapy consists of about 5 months of drug treatment to shrink the tumor size before surgical removal of any remaining mass. A pathological complete response (pCR) is defined as complete disappearance of the tumor before surgery and strongly correlates with 5- and 10-year survival. However, only 15-40% of patients who undergo NAC will achieve a pCR, while the remaining patients do not benefit from a therapy that has considerable side effects. In my work, I explore the potential of diffuse optical tomography (DOT) for breast cancer imaging and NAC monitoring. The overall objective is two-fold. First, I seek to identify breast cancer patients who will not respond to NAC shortly after the initiation of therapy r. Identifying these patients early will allow a switch to a more promising therapy and avoiding months of ineffective therapy with a drug regimen that has considerable side effects. Second, I use the optical data simultaneously obtained from the contralateral, non-tumor bearing breast to better understand the factors that modulate breast density and the source of its contrast in DOT. In this talk I will report on the result of a clinical study involving 105 women with stage II-III breast cancer. We found that there are differences in the time evolution of DOT features between pCR and non-pCR tumors under NAC, and DOT features can contribute to the successful prediction of pCR status from pretreatment imaging. Lastly, our analysis demonstrated a positive correlation between DOT feature and mammographic density classification, which could lead to research on the potential use of DOT as a predictor of breast cancer

Axial DOT images showing blood concen-tration (CtHbT) of the breast obtained from two cancer patients undergoing neo-adju-vant chemotherapy