High-speed spectral nanocytology for early cancer screening

John E. Chandler*, Hariharan Subramanian, Charles D. Maneval, Craig A. White, Richard M. Levenson, Vadim Backman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


High-throughput partial wave spectroscopy (HTPWS) is introduced as a high-speed spectral nanocytology technique that utilizes the field effect of carcinogenesis to perform minimally invasive cancer screening on atrisk populations. HTPWS uses fully automated hardware and an acousto-optic tunable filter to scan slides at low magnification, to selectcells, and to rapidly acquire spectra at each spatial pixel in a cell between 450 and 700 nm, completing measurements of 30 cells in 40 min. Statistical quantitative analysis on the size and density of intracellular nanostructures extracted from the spectra at each pixel in a cell yields the diagnostic biomarker, disorder strength (Ld). Linear correlation between Ld and the length scale of nanostructures was measured in phantoms with R2 = 0.93. Diagnostic sensitivity was demonstrated by measuring significantly higher Ld from a human colon cancer cell line (HT29 control vector) than a less aggressive variant (epidermal growth factor receptor knockdown). Clinical diagnostic performance for lung cancer screening was tested on 23 patients, yielding a significant difference in Ld betweensmokers and cancer patients, p = 0.02 and effect size = 1.00. The high-throughput performance, nanoscale sensitivity, and diagnostic sensitivity make HTPWS a potentially clinically relevant modality for risk stratification of the large populations at risk of developing cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117002
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • cancer screening
  • cellular nanoarchitecture
  • light-scattering spectroscopic microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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