New technique lights up tumour cells during surgery

September 19th, 2011 - 5:46 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 19 (IANS) A technique which lights up tumour cells during surgery could help those who suffer from ovarian cancer.

Now doctors may spot undetectable tumours measuring just a tenth of a millimetre, dramatically improving success rate in tricky cancer operations.

Researchers added a fluorescent marker to a form of folic acid - which gets attached to ovarian cancer cells - which they injected into patients two hours before surgery, the Daily Mail reports.

Using a special camera, they were able to highlight cancer cells and display them as green glowing patches on a monitor.

Biochemistry professor Philip Low, from Purdue University in Indiana, the US, who invented the technique, said: “It allowed surgeons to spot a tumour 30 times smaller than the smallest they could detect using standard techniques.”

“By dramatically improving the detection of the cancer - by literally lighting it up - removal has dramatically improved.”

Around 6,800 cases of ovarian cancer are identified in Britain each year. Two-thirds of those diagnosed will die from it. It is extremely difficult to locate ovarian cancer which is often spotted at a late stage, when it is too late.

Surgeons using traditional methods, which rely on vision and touch, often miss small tumours - containing clusters of cells which are less than three mm wide.

However, those involved in a trial of the new fluorescence-guided technique found an average of 34 tumours - compared with an average of seven using current methods.

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