Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Ratna Naik

Second Advisor

Steven J. Rehse


Cancer and diabetes are common chronic diseases in today's world causing numerous deaths in adults as well as children. Most common types of cancers in adults include prostate, lung, breast, colorectal and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, while among children; leukemia, and brain and central nervous system cancers are quite common. In each of these cases, early detection of the cancer or disease dramatically increases the chances of successful treatment. In recent years, there has been much interest in using Raman spectroscopy and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy as analytical optical spectroscopic methods for early diagnosis of diseases. Raman spectroscopy can be used to measure changes in the bio-molecular composition of a tissue specimen, and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy can measure chromophores of the skin. In this research, archived (formalin-fixed paraffin processed) tissues of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, prostate, and pediatric tumors have been investigated using Raman spectroscopy. We have utilized statistical methods such as principal component analysis (PCA) and discriminant function analysis (DFA) to analyze the spectral output and distinguish between normal and cancerous tissues. The results show cancerous tissues can be successfully distinguished from normal tissues in three cancer types in ex vivo. However, due to loss of biochemical in the tissue processing (paraffinizing and deparaffinizing procedure), the prediction ability of the archived tissues are less compared to frozen tissues as observed in the pediatric tumor investigation.

We also investigated the diagnostic capability of diffuse reflectance spectroscopy and colorimetry on a skin disease, acanthosis nigricans in vivo. The aim is to quantify and characterize the skin color change associated with acanthosis nigricans skin disease in insulin-resistant obese individuals. We observe both the instruments can be utilized to detect acanthosis nigricans with more than 87% sensitivity and 94% specificity when combined with advanced chemometric methods.