Assessing damage to skin by radiation using spatial frequency domain imaging

Many breast cancer patients around the world undergo radiation therapy in order to abolish any remaining cancer cells that have a possibility to remain after chemotherapy or surgery. But the patients suffer from adverse side-effects such as skin irritation and at times even blistering and peeling. The patients may also suffer from permanent skin discoloration and breast tissue thickening days or months after the treatment. At present, there are means of predicting the seriousness of these late and acute effects and also the existing assessment of these effects are dependent on subjective scoring.

A team of scientists at the Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California and the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic are evaluating a new imaging tool designed by start-up, Modulated Imaging Inc.

The device utilizes 8 diverse wavelengths of near-infrared and visible light. These wavelengths are projected onto the skin, sweeping it with light patterns that assist in removing the impact of dispersing from the measured signals. This method is known as spatial frequency domain imaging and the Reflect RS by Modulated Imaging is the only device that exists to be using this technology according to the researchers.

The team could assess the quantity of melanin in the skin of female treated for cancer of the breast. This evaluation permitted the assessment of the total volume of blood and skin oxygenation aiding to offer an objective evaluation of its health.

With the use of this new imaging method, the team aspires to use precision measurements to illustrate skin toxicity of tissue that is subjected to radiation. By keeping a track of these estimations during treatment, the researchers wish to better comprehend the aspects engrossed in skin damage and, expectantly, how to estimate late and acute toxicities.

Besides hoping to estimate the response of patients to radiation therapy, the team also aspires to improve the tool in other ways such as assisting to direct the development of improved lotions to take care of these side-effects and also shrink the size of the device itself.

Even the instrument is not ready for clinical usage as its potential is yet to be validated further in larger studies. We hope that the system will be able to help patients.