Depth profiling of calcifications in breast tissue using picosecond Kerr-gated Raman spectroscopy.
Baker R., Matousek P., Ronayne KL., Parker AW., Rogers K., Stone N.
Breast calcifications are found in both benign and malignant lesions and their composition can indicate the disease state. Calcium oxalate (dihydrate) (COD) is associated with benign lesions, however calcium hydroxyapatite (HAP) is found mainly in proliferative lesions including carcinoma. The diagnostic practices of mammography and histopathology examine the morphology of the specimen. They can not reliably distinguish between the two types of calcification, which may indicate the presence of a cancerous lesion during mammography. We demonstrate for the first time that Kerr-gated Raman spectroscopy is capable of non-destructive probing of sufficient biochemical information from calcifications buried within tissue, and this information can potentially be used as a first step in identifying the type of lesion. The method uses a picosecond pulsed laser combined with fast temporal gating of Raman scattered light to enable spectra to be collected from a specific depth within scattering media by collecting signals emerging from the sample at a given time delay following the laser pulse. Spectra characteristic of both HAP and COD were obtained at depths of up to 0.96 mm, in both chicken breast and fatty tissue; and normal and cancerous human breast by utilising different time delays. This presents great potential for the use of Raman spectroscopy as an adjunct to mammography in the early diagnosis of breast cancer.