A team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine has come up with an eyewear that helps in identifying cancer cells better and distinctly.
Naked eyes cannot see the cancer cells so clearly, but when seeing the tumour through the new glasses, the cancer cells glow blue. This helps in distinguishing the healthy cells from the cancer cells. So now even the most tiny of cancer cells can be removed during surgery, thus minimising the need of follow-up surgeries.
The new system was developed by a team led by Samuel Achilefu, a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering. Dr. Julie Margenthaler, a breast surgeon and associate professor of surgery at the university, was the first to use the technology.
"We're in the early stages of this technology, and more development and testing will be done, but we're certainly encouraged by the potential benefits to patients," said Dr Margenthaler.
The entire system comprises custom video technology, a head-mounted display and a chemical that helps cancer cells glow when viewed with the eyewear. The glasses can detect tumours as small as 1 millimetre in diameter. Achilefu hopes the technology can one day be used in telemedicine.
Achilefu said the idea of these glasses is inspired from the night vision goggles used in the Persian Gulf War.
Experts said around 25 per cent of breast cancer patients who have undergone a surgery to get the lumps removed need a second operation as the present method and technology is not so accurate in spotting all cancer cells. But the new hi-tech glasses will go along way in helping cancer patients avoid second surgeries.
Surgeons use MRI images to plan the removal of tumours. And to be extra careful and to check the spread of cancer, doctors remove extra surrounding tissue and nearby lymph nodes.
The study was published in Journal of Biomedical Optics.