Early detection of neoplastic changes remains a critical challenge in clinical cancer diagnosis and treatment. Many cancers arise from epithelial layers such as those of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Current standard endoscopic technology is unable to detect those subsurface lesions. Since cancer development is associated with both morphological and molecular alterations, imaging technologies that can quantitative image tissue’s morphological and molecular biomarkers and assess the depth extent of a lesion in real time, without the need for tissue excision, would be a major advance in GI cancer diagnostics and therapy. In this research, we investigated the feasibility of multi-modal optical imaging including high-resolution optical coherence tomography (OCT) and depth-resolved high-sensitivity fluorescence laminar optical tomography (FLOT) for structural and molecular imaging. APC (adenomatous polyposis coli) mice model were imaged using OCT and FLOT and the correlated histopathological diagnosis was obtained. Quantitative structural (the scattering coefficient) and molecular imaging parameters (fluorescence intensity) from OCT and FLOT images were developed for multi-parametric analysis. This multi-modal imaging method has demonstrated the feasibility for more accurate diagnosis with 87.4% (87.3%) for sensitivity (specificity) which gives the most optimal diagnosis (the largest area under receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve). This project results in a new non-invasive multi-modal imaging platform for improved GI cancer detection, which is expected to have a major impact on detection, diagnosis, and characterization of GI cancers, as well as a wide range of epithelial cancers.
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