Cancer Tissue Discrimination using Visible Supercontinuum Lasers

Being able to distinguishing cancerous tissue from normal tissue without histological method is a challenging problem for surgeons.  For example, an incomplete removal of cancerous tissue will lower the effectiveness of the surgery, while an excessive removal of normal tissue means more damage to the already impaired organ. Therefore, we are trying to develop a real-time/non-invasive method to distinguish cancerous tissue from normal tissue using a Visible-Near Infrared Super-continuum Laser.

It is known that cancer cells have lower lipid content and higher water content due to their abnormal metabolism. Such chromophore differences will lead to changes in the tissue absorption spectrum. Also, in cancerous tissue, due to the irregular shape of collagen, cancerous tissue usually exhibit higher scatter coefficient compared with normal tissue. By using a SC laser in both the Visible and Near Infrared bands, we can gain access to both second overtone absorption spectrum (NIR regime) and scattering coefficient (Visible Regime) without too much interference from background water absorption. At the same time, SC laser produces much higher brightness compared with conventional light source in this band such as tungsten or halogen lamp, enabling much higher spectra SNR and acquisition speed.