A novel method for rapidly detecting metastatic breast cancer within excised sentinel lymph node(s) of the axilla is presented. Elastic scattering spectroscopy (ESS) is a point-contact technique that collects broadband optical spectra sensitive to absorption and scattering within the tissue. A statistical discrimination algorithm was generated from a training set of nearly 3000 clinical spectra and used to test clinical spectra collected from an independent set of nodes. Freshly excised nodes were bivalved and mounted under a fiber-optic plate. Stepper motors raster-scanned a fiber-optic probe over the plate to interrogate the node's cut surface, creating a 20×20 grid of spectra. These spectra were analyzed to create a map of cancer risk across the node surface. Rules were developed to convert these maps to a prediction for the presence of cancer in the node. Using these analyses, a leave-one-out cross-validation to optimize discrimination parameters on 128 scanned nodes gave a sensitivity of 69% for detection of clinically relevant metastases (71% for macrometastases) and a specificity of 96%, comparable to literature results for touch imprint cytology, a standard technique for intraoperative diagnosis. ESS has the advantage of not requiring a pathologist to review the tissue sample.
Sentinel node biopsy is the new standard for lymphatic staging of breast carcinoma. Intraoperative detection of sentinel node metastases avoids a second operation for those patients with metastatic lymph nodes. Elastic scattering spectroscopy is an optical technique which is sensitive to cellular and subcellular changes occurring in malignancy. We analyzed 2078 ESS spectra from 324 axillary sentinel nodes from patients with breast carcinoma. ESS was able to detect metastatic lymph nodes with an overall sensitivity of 60% and specificity of 94%, which is comparable to existing pathological techniques. Nodes completely replaced with metastatic tumour were detected with 100% sensitivity, suggesting that further improvement in sensitivity is likely with more intensive optical sampling of the nodes.
The ability to provide the best treatment for breast cancer depends on establishing whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm. Conventional assessment requires tissue removal, preparation, and expert microscopic interpretation. In this study, elastic scattering spectroscopy (ESS) is used to interrogate excised nodes with pulsed broadband illumination and collection of the backscattered light. Multiple spectra are taken from 139 excised nodes (53 containing cancer) in 68 patients, and spectral analysis is performed using a combination of principal component analysis and linear discriminant analysis to correlate the spectra with conventional histology. The data are divided into training and test sets. In test sets containing spectra from only normal nodes and nodes with complete replacement by cancer, ESS detects the spectra from cancerous nodes with 84% sensitivity and 91% specificity (per-spectrum analysis). In test sets that included normal nodes and nodes with partial as well as complete replacement by cancer, ESS detects the nodes with cancer with an average sensitivity of 75% and specificity of 89% (per-node analysis). These results are comparable to those from conventional touch imprint cytology and frozen section histology, but do not require an expert pathologist for interpretation. With automation of the technique, results could be made available almost instantaneously. ESS is a promising technique for the rapid, accurate, and straightforward detection of metastases in excised sentinel lymph nodes.