Articles about Optics and Photonics, Lasers, Fiber Bragg gratings and FBG sensors

Raman spectroscopy detects throat cancer at early stages

on December 7, 2018

Cancer is a difficult-to-detect disease, quite often with no early-stage symptoms that is why the majority of patients go undiagnosed until tumor formation and its spread. Oropharyngeal or throat cancers of the tonsils are not exclusion.

Fortunately, laser systems allow detecting, treating cancer cells and even efficiently removing tumors. The main task of scientific laser systems is specific cells detection with the help of laser technology. Cancer cells are very problematic to detect visually, for this reason laser systems are highly useful in detecting the difference in light reflection from healthy and cancer cells.

The best way of differentiation between healthy and cancer cells is the use of a specifically-designed device based on the Raman fiber laser. The Raman laser measures the way of different cells reflection with the help of laser light. The device is extremely precise; almost 90% accuracy of the Raman fiber laser improves locating stray cancer cells during surgery by 10%.

The advantages of Raman fiber laser system include:

  • Noninvasive and nonablative analysis;
  • High spatial resolution up to sub-micron scale;
  • In-depth analysis of transparent samples with the help of a confocal optical system;
  • No need for sample preparation;
  • Measurement of both organic and inorganic materials;
  • Measurement of samples in various states, for example, gas, liquid, solution, solid, crystal, emulsion;
  • Possibility of sample measurement in a chamber through a glass window;
  • 10 msec to 1 sec exposure for getting a Raman spectrum;
  • Possibility of imaging analysis by scanning the motorized stage or laser beam.

Recently a group of researchers from the USA found out the ability of Raman fiber laser to detect HPV-related cancers of the throat at early stages and, finally, it would reduce needs in biopsies and offer less-intensive therapies. Laser light from the Raman laser, a spectrometer and either a microscope or a fiber-optic probe are used to give an information about the tissue biochemistry for measurement of the molecular signatures change in a cell or tissue transformed by disease. Moreover, Raman spectroscopy allows diagnosing difficult-to-locate cancer cells in other parts of the body, for example, the cervix or gastrointestinal tract.

The researchers use a flexible fiber-optic probe for a tissue illumination with near-infrared light and the measurement of Raman scattered light with the same probe. This light shows a distinct biochemical profile from the tissue. Special detector records light intensity alteration as Raman spectra and sends them to a computer system where the data obtained are analyzed with the aim to find out whether the tissue is cancerous or noncancerous. It should be mentioned that there is no need for biopsies using Raman spectroscopy. According to the research team this technique is highly promising and does not have any side effects.

Optromix is a manufacturer of Raman fiber optic probes that is for multi-wave excitation in the range 690-785 nm and 1000-1064 nm. The probes are miniaturized without compromising its performance, which is enabled by the technology of direct deposition of the dielectric filters at the fiber end faces. It results in a small, cost-effective Raman probe for endoscopy and other applications. If you have any questions or would like to buy Optromix Raman fiber optic probes, please contact us at

editorRaman spectroscopy detects throat cancer at early stages


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