Low-coherence enhanced backscattering of light: Characteristics and applications for colon cancer screening

Young L. Kim*, Prabhakar Pradhan, Vladimir M. Turzhitsky, Hariharan Subramanian, Yang Liu, Ramesh K. Wali, Hemant K. Roy, Vadim Backman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The phenomenon of enhanced backscattering (EBS) of light, also known as coherent backscattering (CBS) of light, is a spectacular manifestation of self-interference effects in elastic light scattering, which gives rise to an enhanced scattered intensity in the backward direction. Although EBS has been the object of intensive investigation in non-biological media over the last two decades, there have been only a few attempts to explore EBS for tissue characterization and diagnosis. We have recently made progress in the EBS measurements of biological tissue by taking advantage of lowcoherence (or partially coherent) illumination, which is referred to as low-coherence EBS (LEBS) of light. LEBS possess novel and intriguing properties such as speckle reduction, self-averaging effect, broadening of the EBS width, depth-selectivity, double scattering, and circular polarization memory effect. After we review the current state of research on LEBS, we discuss how these characteristics apply for early cancer detection, especially in colorectal cancer (CRC), which is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States. Although colonoscopy remains the gold standard for CRC screening, resource constraints and potential complications make it impractical to perform colonoscopy on the entire population at risk (age > 50). Thus, identifying patients who are most likely to benefit from colonoscopy is of paramount importance. We demonstrate that LEBS measurements in easily accessible colonoscopically normal mucosa (e.g., in the rectum of the colon) can be used for predicting the risk of CRC, and thus LEBS has the potential to serve as accurate markers of the risk of neoplasia elsewhere in the colon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBiomedical Applications of Light Scattering
StatePublished - 2007
EventBiomedical Applications of Light Scattering - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 20 2007Jan 23 2007

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherBiomedical Applications of Light Scattering
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose, CA


  • Coherent backscattering of light
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Elastic light scattering spectroscopy
  • Enhanced backscattering of light
  • Low-coherence (or partially coherent) illumination
  • Risk-stratification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Biomaterials


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