The aim of this study is to investigate whether near-infrared spectral tomography (NIRST) might serve as a reliable prognostic tool to predict residual cancer burden (RCB) in patients with breast cancer undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) based upon early treatment response measurements.

Experimental Design:

A total of thirty-five patients with breast cancer receiving NAC were included in this study. NIRST imaging was performed at multiple time points, including: before treatment, at end of the first cycle, at the mid-point, and post-NAC treatments. From reconstructed NIRST images, average values of total hemoglobin (HbT) were obtained for both the tumor region and contralateral breast at each time point. RCB scores/classes were assessed by a pathologist using histologic slides of the surgical specimen obtained after completing NAC. Logistic regression of the normalized early percentage change of HbT in the tumor region (ΔHbT%) was used to predict RCB and determine its significance as an indicator for differentiating cases within each RCB class.


The ΔHbT% at the end of the first cycle, as compared with pretreatment levels, showed excellent prognostic capability in differentiating RCB-0 from RCB-I/II/III or RCB-II from RCB-0/I/III (P < 0.001). Corresponding area under the curve (AUC) values for these comparisons were 0.97 and 0.94, and accuracy values were 0.90 and 0.83, respectively.


NIRST holds promise as a potential clinical tool that can be seamlessly integrated into existing clinical workflow within the infusion suite. By providing early assessment of RCB, NIRST has potential to improve breast cancer patient management strategies.

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