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Light reflectance fine tunes prostate cancer surgery

Light reflectance fine tunes p...
A microscope image of cancerous prostate tissue
A microscope image of cancerous prostate tissue
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A microscope image of cancerous prostate tissue
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A microscope image of cancerous prostate tissue

When a patient is diagnosed withprostate cancer, doctors often decide to remove the gland and some ofthe surrounding tissue, but the procedure isn't always perfect, andin some cases either too little or too much tissue is removed. A newtechnique might significantly improve the accuracy of the procedure,using a reflected light technology to detect left-behind cancer cellsduring the surgery.

The research, which is lead by a teamat the University of Texas Southerwestern Medical Center, makes useof a novel light reflectance spectroscopy probe. Essentially, theintensity of light reflected or scattered back from tissues duringsurgery is analyzed, with scientists able to look at the data topinpoint cancer cells that weren't removed with the prostate gland.

These usually undetectable cancer cellsreside outside the visible tumor, in an area referred to as a"positive surgical margin." Surgeons often remove some of thetissue surrounding the prostate gland in order to catch any nearbycancer cells, but sometimes it might not actually have been necessaryto do so – if that tissue was, in fact, cancer free – or somecancer cells might be left behind despite the removal of extratissue.

Using the probe, the researchersattempted to determine its effectiveness at detecting dangerous cellsin the margin. They worked with 17 patients with medium-to-high riskdiseases that required immediate prostatectomy.

As soon as the glands were removed, theresearchers used the probe on surgical margins where it was suspectedthat cancer cells might still be lurking, with samples of said tissue then beingremoved for analysis in the lab. After testing the samples for cancercells, the researchers found that the light reflectance spectroscopytechnique had successfully identified positive surgical margins –those where dangerous cells were still present – with an accuracyof 85 percent.

"This study highlights one of agrowing number of technology platforms that aim to improve theoutcomes of cancer surgery," said UT Southwestern's Dr JeffreyCadeddu. "Further study is required to determine whether suchanalysis may be used in real time to improve surgical decision-makingand decrease the amount of tissue surgeons need to remove."

The findings of the work were publishedonline in the Journal of Urology.

Source: UT Southwestern

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