In human breast tumors, a 1–2°C increase in skin surface temperature is usually observed at the periphery; it has been proposed that this change is due to the hypervascularity and increased blood flow resulting from tumor-associated angiogenesis. Here we tested the hypothesis that thermal imaging might represent a useful adjunctive technique in monitoring the growth dynamics of human tumor xenografts. Xenografts were established in immunocomprised nude mice using MDA-MB-231 or MCF7 breast cancer cells. We exploited the inherent noncontact and noninvasive advantages of infrared thermography to detect skin surface temperature changes. Continuous thermographic investigation was performed to detect and monitor tumor growth in vivo and high resolution digital images were analyzed to measure the tumor temperature dynamics. In contrast to the skin temperature increases associated with human breast cancer, a consistent temperature decrease was found in the xenograft mice. In one case, a smaller secondary tumor, otherwise undetectable, was clearly evident by thermal imaging. The tumors were cooler than the surrounding tissue with a maximum temperature reduction of 1.5°C for MDA-MB-231 tumor and 3°C for MCF7 tumors observed on day 14. In addition, the temperature of the xenograft tumors decreased progressively as they grew throughout the observation period. It was demonstrated that thermographic imaging could detect temperature changes as small as 0.1°C on the skin surface at an early stage of tumor development. The findings of the study indicate that thermographic imaging might have considerable potential in monitoring human tumor xenografts and their response to anticancer drugs. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
- Thermal imaging
- Breast cancer