An efficient algorithm to obtain the solutions for $n$-th order terms of perturbation expansions in absorption, scattering, and cross-coupling for light propagating in human tissue is presented. The proposed solution is free of any approximations and makes possible fast and efficient estimates of mammographic, optical tomographic, and fluorescent images, applying a perturbation order of 30 and more. The presented analysis sets the general limits for the applicability of the perturbation approach as a function of tumor size and optical properties of the human tissue. The convergence tests of the efficient calculations for large absorbing objects show excellent agreement with the reference data from finite element method calculations. The applicability of the theory is demonstrated in experiments on breast-like phantoms with high absorbing and low-scattering lesions.
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