Monitoring blood oxygen levels inside tumours

Monitoring blood oxygen levels inside tumours

My name is Olivia Tong and I am in my second year of a Master’s degree in biomedical engineering under the supervision of Drs. Jeffrey Carson and Mamadou Diop. You might have seen Lawrence Yip’s blog post regarding 3D photoacoustic tomography. As an extension of Lawrence’s work, we are developing a non-contact photoacoustic tomography system that can accurately monitor the blood oxygen level inside tumours during chemotherapy.

The success of this project will lead to a new diagnostic method that can quickly identify the most effective chemotherapy drug for each breast cancer patient receiving chemotherapy. The primary objective of my work is to develop a component of this non-contact photoacoustic system called a 3D surface scanner that will be used to capture the location and shape of the breast surface. This component is important for reconstructing photoacoustic images from the non-contact system, and it may also have application to surgical planning. Breast surgeons currently plan their procedures using breast images acquired in the standing or prone (face-down) positions.

Olivia Tong BCSC funded researcherA secondary objective of my work will determine if scanning the breast surfaces in the face-up position, which is typical of surgery, will provide useful planning information to the surgeon. I am just finishing up a human ethics application that will be submitted in the next few weeks. Once approved, I plan to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate my scanning system in the next few months.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work on this exciting project and am so thankful for the generous support of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada through the Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit (TBCRU).

Support researchers like Olivia Tong and others by considering a donation to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. Find out how you can help fund life-saving research, visit

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