A handheld probe that can identify cancer cells during surgery can be useful to prevent cancer recurrences and increase the cancer-free lifespan of the patient.
- A multimodal probe can detect the metabolic composition of cancer cells during surgery
- The use of such a probe can ensure that all the cancer cells are detected and adequately treated
- The subsequent reduction in recurrences can increase life span in patients
The study was published in Cancer Research.
Cancers are notorious for recurrences. They usually start in one organ, where they gradually increase in size and then spread either locally, or through blood or lymphatics.
Lymphatics are vessels that carry tissue fluid from a particular part and finally drain it into a major vein.
‘A multimodal probe can detect brain cancer cells during surgery, and therefore prevent cancer recurrences.’
Treatment of cancer includes surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy
and targeted therapy. Surgery is often preceded by chemotherapy,
referred to as neoadjuvant chemotherapy,
to reduce the size of the cancer and to make it easy to remove is surgically. Unfortunately, surgery cannot guarantee the complete removal of every cancer cell. If some cancer cells escape treatment, the cancer can recur, either at the same site, or at some other site where the cells may have spread. Recurrences are often more difficult to treat. Therefore, cancer surgery is usually followed by additional treatment like chemotherapy or radiotherapy to clear the remaining cancer cells. This form of treatment is referred to as adjuvant therapy.
Adjuvant therapy, unfortunately, does not only attack cancer cells. Due to its effects on normal cells, it can cause unpleasant side effects. Therefore, a method that can accurately detect all cancer cells so that they can be adequately treated during the primary surgery, could reduce the chances of recurrences and improve the cancer-free life span of the patient.
A multimodal optical spectroscopy probe could be the answer to the above problem. It is a handheld device that combines intrinsic fluorescence spectroscopy, diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy, and has been found to be extremely sensitive, specific and accurate in detecting cancer cells in the brain.
The probe identifies the metabolic composition of the cancer cells. It can be used during surgery so that the cancer can be adequately treated, and the chances of recurrence are further reduced.
The probe has also been tested for other cancers of the colon, lung and the skin, with good results.
An older version of the probe is being tested in a clinical trial during surgery for a type of brain tumor
called glioma. Depending on the results of the study, a clinical trial to evaluate the newer version of the probe will be designed. If results are positive and if the device receives FDA approval, its benefits could be extended to a larger population of cancer patients.
- Jermyn M et al. Highly accurate detection of cancer in situ with intraoperative, label-free, multimodal optical spectroscopy. Cancer Research (2017);77(14); 1-9