SoftScan, a product of a Canadian firm Advanced Research Technologies Inc., is an optical imaging device designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The company is trying to bring this interesting product to the American market.
The technology behind this product is based on the fact that malignancies have increased tissue perfusion and metabolism. The company explains:
In order to characterize breast tissue as malignant or benign, clinicians select regions of interest (ROIs) on images produced by the Softscan system. These ROIs are selected on the basis of the differences in intensity observed across the image and in comparison to the results obtained with other modalities. Using the multi-wavelength TD optical data acquired by the scan, a graph representing functional information (activity chart) is then generated and compares the perfusion (total hemoglobin concentration) and the metabolism (ratio deoxyhemoglobin/ total hemoglobin) of the ROI to the surrounding tissue. A significant increase in both the perfusion and the metabolism of an ROI, in comparison to the surrounding tissue, is indicative of a malignant tumor.
Such a discrimination of malignant tissue is based on the following elements:
— Low blood oxygen saturation due to a localized increase in metabolic activity generated by the cancer’s rapid growth; and
— Increased tissue perfusion due to angiogenesis. This formation of new small blood vessels allows the malignant tumor to survive and to metastasize (spread).
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