Despite significant improvements in the way breast cancer is managed and treated, it continues to persist as a leading cause of death worldwide. If detected and diagnosed early, when tumours are small and localised, there is a considerably higher chance of survival. However, current methods for detection and diagnosis lack the required sensitivity and specificity for identifying breast cancer at the asymptomatic or very early stages. Thus, there is a need to develop more rapid and reliable methods, capable of detecting disease earlier, for improved disease management and patient outcome. Raman spectroscopy is a non-destructive analytical technique that can rapidly provide highly specific information on the biochemical composition and molecular structure of samples. In cancer, it has the capacity to probe very early biochemical changes that accompany malignant transformation, even prior to the onset of morphological changes, to produce a fingerprint of disease. This review explores the application of Raman spectroscopy in breast cancer, including discussion on its capabilities in analysing both ex-vivo tissue and liquid biopsy samples, and its potential in vivo applications. The review also addresses current challenges and potential future uses of this technology in cancer research and translational clinical application.
We are grateful to Friends of Anchor and the University of Aberdeen Development Trust for supporting this work and to Renishaw (Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, UK) for providing the original version of Fig. 1B. KH is in receipt of an Elphinstone Scholarship, University of Aberdeen. EK was a recipient of an Aberdeen Summer Research Scholarship. Special thanks to staff at Renishaw for helpful discussions.
Friends of Anchor. The University of Aberdeen Development Trust. University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Scholarship
Data Availability StatementSupplementary information
The online version contains supplementary material available at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-021-01659-5.