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The current gold standard for breast cancer (BC) diagnosis is the histopathological assessment of biopsy samples. However, this approach limits the understanding of the disease in terms of biochemical changes. Raman spectroscopy has demonstrated its potential to provide diagnostic information and facilitate the prediction of the biochemical progression for different diseases in a rapid non-destructive manner. Raman micro-spectroscopy was used to characterize and differentiate breast cancer and normal breast samples. In this study, tissue microarrays of breast cancer biopsy samples (n=499) and normal breast (n=79) were analyzed using Raman micro-spectroscopy, and principal component analysis (PCA) was used for feature extraction. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) was used for feature validation. Normal breast and breast cancer were successfully differentiated with a sensitivity of 90 % and specificity of 78 %. Dominance of lipids, specifically fatty acids, was identified in the normal tissue whereas proteins dominated the malignant spectra. Higher intensities of carotenoids, β-carotenoids, and cholesterol were identified in the normal breast while ceramide related peaks were mostly visible in the BC spectra. The biochemical characterization achieved with Raman micro-spectroscopy showed that this technique is a powerful and reliable tool for the monitoring and diagnosis of BC, regardless of the cohort heterogeneity. Raman spectroscopy also provided a powerful insight into the biochemical changes associated with the BC progression and evolution.
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