Breast Cancer Early Detection Lab

In my research team, we have created a patent-pending, optical diagnostic probe capable of detecting early stage breast cancer.

Clinical studies of this diffuse optical breast-scanning (DOB-Scan) probe at Surrey’s Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre and the BC Cancer Agency have conclusively confirmed cancerous tumors, while also providing more detail about “suspicious tissue” than conventional methods.

We have spent the past eight years refining the technology, which has so far resulted in two Ph.D. and three MASc degrees.

How it works

The DOB-Scan probe uses near-infrared light to capture cross-sectional images of breast tissue. The captured images represent concentrations of four main components in the breast—oxy-hemoglobin, deoxy- hemoglobin, water and fat, which are markers of healthy and cancerous tissue in the breast. The reconstructed images using the probe correlated well with cancer locations obtained by other clinical modalities such as X-ray mammography and MRI. We are also able to read deep within the tissue and capture more detailed information about what it contains.

Device benefits

Improved screening is promising for women of all ages. Since mammography is recommended for women over 50 and requires radiation, our research has led to a cost-effective, non-invasive method that can complement other screening methods and successfully diagnose breast cancer in its early stages.

We began this research eight years ago initially focussing on oral and skin cancer. After consulting with the BC Cancer Agency, however, he turned to the critical area of breast cancer diagnosis.

Our current team includes Dr. Majid Shokoufi, Postdoctoral fellow and former Ph.D. student, Zahra Haeri, MASc student, who carried out the study’s data analysis, and Dr. Mozhgan Jenab, a clinical research associate at SFU and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, where she worked with Dr. Rhonda Janzen to carry out the clinical study.

We are hopeful the probe can eventually play a significant role in breast tumor detection and monitoring. Next steps include broadening the study base to include women who have not undergone cancer diagnosis. With a patent filed, the team has plans to commercialize the probe.

Why it matters:

• Breast cancer affects almost one in eight North American women during their lifetime and it is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women.

• While popular methods in breast cancer imaging include X-ray mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the DOB-Scan probe can safely provide more detailed, instant results.