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Journal of Oncology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 863747, 10 pages
Review Article

Optical Imaging in Breast Cancer Diagnosis: The Next Evolution

1Molecular Imaging Program, PET Radiopharmacy Unit, Molecular Imaging Group, IDIS, GALARIA-SERGAS, University Hospital Complex, Travesía de Choupana s/n., 15706 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
2Nuclear Medicine Service, Medicine Faculty, Molecular Imaging Group, IDIS, University Hospital Complex, Travesía de Choupana s/n., 15706 Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Received 21 June 2012; Accepted 28 August 2012

Academic Editor: José María Benlloch

Copyright © 2012 Michel Herranz and Alvaro Ruibal. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among the population of the Western world. Diagnostic methods include mammography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance; meanwhile, nuclear medicine techniques have a secondary role, being useful in regional assessment and therapy followup. Optical imaging is a very promising imaging technique that uses near-infrared light to assess optical properties of tissues and is expected to play an important role in breast cancer detection. Optical breast imaging can be performed by intrinsic breast tissue contrast alone (hemoglobin, water, and lipid content) or with the use of exogenous fluorescent probes that target specific molecules for breast cancer. Major advantages of optical imaging are that it does not use any radioactive components, very high sensitivity, relatively inexpensive, easily accessible, and the potential to be combined in a multimodal approach with other technologies such as mammography, ultrasound, MRI, and positron emission tomography. Moreover, optical imaging agents could, potentially, be used as “theranostics,” combining the process of diagnosis and therapy.