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Cancer is a major public health problem worldwide due to its poor prognosis. Detection of cancer in the earliest stages is crucial for the success of therapeutic strategies to truly cure the disease. Molecular imaging provides the potential to diagnose and image cancers at an asymptomatic stage. In molecular imaging, the nanoparticles are designed to target the cancer cells. Molecular imaging is capable of assessing the molecular processes within the tumors by detecting the accumulated or targeted nanoparticles. However, for most molecular imaging systems, the background signal is a common problem, obscuring signals from specific probes and limiting sensitive detection. A hybrid imaging technique, entitled magneto-photo-acoustic (MPA) imaging, was developed as a non-invasive imaging tool to detect nanoparticles, which are used to target pathologies, with high sensitivity and specificity. Based on dual-contrast of both optical absorption and magnetic susceptibility, MPA imaging can significantly improve the molecular contrast specificity as well as investigate the interaction of nanoparticles with cells. Studies were performed using tissue-mimicking phantoms, ex vivo tissue sample and in vivo animal models of cancer. The results indicate that, coupled with dual-contrast agent, the molecular MPA imaging will allow not only mapping the pathologies located in the body, but also sensing the molecular and physiological processes.