NIR reflectance spectra of 110 cryostat sections of carcinomatous tissue and 114 cryostat sections of normal surrounding fibro-glandular tissue from 10 cases of breast cancer, identified by a classical pathology method, were scanned between 1100 and 2500 nm by a grating spectrometer in reflectance mode. Four wavelength intervals (1208-1242, 1746-1788, 2012-2048 and 2326-2368 nm) were found to be different for normal and carcinomatous tissues. In each interval, the second-derivative spectra of normal tissue showed a similar pattern with several characteristic peaks. In order to test the capacity of NIR spectroscopy in discriminating between normal and carcinomatous breast samples, 104 tissue sections from five additional cases were scanned prior to microscopic examination. The diagnostic prediction of NIR spectroscopy coincided exactly with the histology diagnosis for all the samples. Moreover, the presence of even a minute quantity of cancer infiltration can be detected by NIR spectroscopy, in total accordance with the microscopical observation. Therefore, the results of our experiments allow us to consider that NIR spectroscopy might become, with feasible improvements, an accurate, rapid, and reliable method for detecting breast cancer.

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