Although a considerable amount is known about molecular dysregulations in later stages of tumor progression, much less is known about the regulated processes supporting initial tumor growth. Insight into such processes can provide a fuller understanding of carcinogenesis, with implications for cancer treatment and risk assessment. Work from our laboratory suggests that organized substructure emerges during tumor formation. The goal here was to examine the feasibility of using state-of-the-art differential phase contrast X-ray imaging to investigate density differentials that evolve during early tumor development. To this end the beamline for TOmographic Microscopy and Coherent rAdiology experimenTs (TOMCAT) at the Swiss Light Source was used to examine the time-dependent assembly of substructure in developing tumors. Differential phase contrast (DPC) imaging based on grating interferometry as implemented with TOMCAT, offers sensitivity to density differentials within soft tissues and a unique combination of high resolution coupled with a large field of view that permits the accommodation of larger tissue sizes (1 cm in diameter), difficult with other imaging modalities.

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