Correlating colorectal cancer risk with field carcinogenesis progression using partial wave spectroscopic microscopy

Scott Gladstein, Dhwanil Damania, Luay M. Almassalha, Lauren T. Smith, Varun Gupta, Hariharan Subramanian, Douglas K. Rex, Hemant K. Roy, Vadim Backman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Prior to the development of a localized cancerous tumor, diffuse molecular, and structural alterations occur throughout an organ due to genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. This process is known as field carcinogenesis. In this study, we used partial wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy to explore the progression of field carcinogenesis by measuring samples collected from 190 patients with a range of colonic history (no history, low-risk history, and high-risk history) and current colon health (healthy, nondiminutive adenomas (NDA; ≥5 mm and <10 mm), and advanced adenoma [AA; ≥10 mm, HGD, or >25% villous features]). The low-risk history groups include patients with a history of NDA. The high-risk history groups include patients with either a history of AA or colorectal cancer (CRC). PWS is a nanoscale-sensitive imaging technique which measures the organization of intracellular structure. Previous studies have shown that PWS is sensitive to changes in the higher-order (20–200 nm) chromatin topology that occur due to field carcinogenesis within histologically normal cells. The results of this study show that these nanoscale structural alterations are correlated with a patient's colonic history, which suggests that PWS can detect altered field carcinogenic signatures even in patients with negative colonoscopies. Furthermore, we developed a model to calculate the 5-year risk of developing CRC for each patient group. We found that our data fit this model remarkably well (R2 = 0.946). This correlation suggests that PWS could potentially be used to monitor CRC progression less invasively and in patients without adenomas, which opens PWS to many potential cancer care applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2109-2120
Number of pages12
JournalCancer medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • cancer risk
  • chromatin
  • colorectal cancer
  • field carcinogenesis
  • partial wave spectroscopic microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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