We present a method aimed at the non-invasive optical characterization of breast tumors. This method is based on using diffusion theory to model the propagation of intensity-modulated light in breast tissue. The tumor is assumed to be a spherical inhomogeneity. We report our first results obtained in the laboratory on a tissuelike phantom, and in the clinic on a patient affected by breast cancer. The in vivo result indicates that the malignant tumor considered has a higher absorption and a higher reduced scattering coefficient than healthy tissue.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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