Role of Hyperspectral Imaging in Cancer Detection

Cancer, also called a malignant tumor, has become one of the leading causes of death since 2010. Cancer is the abnormal growth of body cells. When the programming of a cell or a group of cells is affected, growth may become uncontrollable. Factors like chronic irritation, tobacco, smoke and dust, radioactive substance, age, sex, race, and heredity can alter the code of cancer cells.

While many of these factors cannot be controlled, individuals need to be aware of the ones that can be controlled by agreeing that prevention is definitely better than the treatment of cancer.

As far as the detection of cancer is concerned, noticeable symptoms are not shown until the middle or later stage, making it difficult for early diagnosis and treatment.

Until now, histopathological analysis of biopsy remains the benchmark for cancer diagnosis, but it is quite a time and cost-consuming procedure.

With the evolution of medical science, innovative processes such as hyperspectral imaging have also evolved, considering lesser time consumption. These are both conclusive and cost-effective cancer detection processes.

Emerging Technology of Hyperspectral Imaging

It is an emerging non-invasive imaging technology that can be used in several applications such as medical diagnostics, pharmaceutical applications, image-guided surgery, defense, security, food quality analysis, mining, geology, industrial applications, and environmental analysis.

This technique works by dividing the spectrum into more bands of light than what can be observed by the human eye. The recorded spectra have fine wavelength resolution and cover a large range of wavelengths.

The hyperspectral imaging (HSI) technology examines a broad spectral range of light frequencies ranging from ultraviolet (UV) to infrared (IR) by developing hypercube data which is a three-dimensional (3D) dataset having one spectral dimension and two spatial dimensions.

This technique is a combination of spectroscopy and 2D or 3D imaging, and it is used to obtain the spectrum for each pixel in the image.

The global hyperspectral imaging market was estimated to be at $791.2 million in 2021, which is expected to grow with a CAGR of 13.17% and reach $1.64 billion by 2027. The growth in the global hyperspectral imaging market is expected to be driven by the widespread applications of hyperspectral imaging technology, the increasing demand and investments from military and defense sectors, the increased emphasis of government on research and development activities, increasing prevalence of various chronic disorders and growing geriatric population, the growing awareness regarding early diagnosis of diseases, and the increasing global food safety concerns.

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Development of Hyperspectral Imaging in the Healthcare Industry

In both developed and developing regions, the global healthcare hyperspectral imaging market has immense growth opportunities. Due to improved access and encouragement from the government and other healthcare institutions, there is increased adoption of imaging systems for high-quality imaging, screening, and diagnosing, especially in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, and the U.K.

The manufacturers are emerging with different strategies to compete in the market along with various brands, models, and designs. Most of the leading healthcare hyperspectral imaging companies focus on developing high-quality cameras that provide an assessment of diagnosis and treatment for various chronic diseases.

Making Cancer Detection Uncomplicated

One of the newer applications of the hyperspectral imaging technique is cancer detection. Due to its minimally invasive and non-contact characteristics, it has become the most popular technique.

HSI takes advantage of composition-specific spectral makers to detect cancer cells and directly distinguish different cell types and tissue patterns in a label-free way. Hyperspectral images contain much more information than common red, green, and blue (RGB) three-color images, which improve the diagnosis accuracy.

The key trends in the hyperspectral imaging market include the use of hyperspectral imaging for the screening of cancer cells, wound diagnosis with the help of hand-handled/mobile phone integrated hyperspectral imaging cameras, and the increase in partnerships and collaborations among hyperspectral imaging companies for the development of innovative products.

Here are some of the most common cancers that can easily be detected by HSI:

Liver Cancer: The most prevalent malignant primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which usually develops from the progression of cirrhosis. It is possible to observe specimens without staining or fixation with the help of HSI.

Brain Cancer: Brain tumors can often resemble normal neurological tissue making them difficult to detect and identify the borders of a tumor. HSI can identify disease conditions based on the chemical composition of the tissue when it is imaged, providing a precise image of the tumor borders in real-time.

Gastrointestinal Cancer: Unlike many other cancer detection techniques that use laser-excited fluorescence, in HSI, there is no need to inject fluorescent materials. Since the detection is based on individual pixels, the size and shape of tumor tissues do not affect the classification result.

Breast Cancer: Hyperspectral imaging technique is able to differentiate the tumor, muscle, connective tissue, and blood vessels, which suggests the technique has the potential for identifying more effective biopsy locations in the detection of breast cancer cells.


HSI combines the power of imaging and spectroscopy, providing both spectral and spatial information. So far, HSI has been quite a help in the diagnosis, micro-environmental monitoring, and margin assessment of solid tumors in vitro and in vivo.

The increasing technological advancements in hospitals, diagnostic centers, surgical practices, and research centers globally are some of the major advancements in the inclining use of the hyperspectral imaging technique.

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