Automated detection of breast cancer in resected specimens with fluorescence lifetime imaging

Jennifer E. Phipps, Dimitris Gorpas, Jakob Unger, Morgan Darrow, Richard J. Bold, Laura Marcu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Re-excision rates for breast cancer lumpectomy procedures are currently nearly 25% due to surgeons relying on inaccurate or incomplete methods of evaluating specimen margins. The objective of this study was to determine if cancer could be automatically detected in breast specimens from mastectomy and lumpectomy procedures by a classification algorithm that incorporated parameters derived from fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIm). This study generated a database of co-registered histologic sections and FLIm data from breast cancer specimens (N = 20) and a support vector machine (SVM) classification algorithm able to automatically detect cancerous, fibrous, and adipose breast tissue. Classification accuracies were greater than 97% for automated detection of cancerous, fibrous, and adipose tissue from breast cancer specimens. The classification worked equally well for specimens scanned by hand or with a mechanical stage, demonstrating that the system could be used during surgery or on excised specimens. The ability of this technique to simply discriminate between cancerous and normal breast tissue, in particular to distinguish fibrous breast tissue from tumor, which is notoriously challenging for optical techniques, leads to the conclusion that FLIm has great potential to assess breast cancer margins. Identification of positive margins before waiting for complete histologic analysis could significantly reduce breast cancer re-excision rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number015003
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • breast cancer
  • fluorescence lifetime imaging
  • support vector machines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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