Mesothelioma Patients Could Benefit from Beeping Laser That Guides Surgeons During Intricate Cancer Surgery
Researchers continue to get more and more creative when it comes to developing tools to help surgeons identify and remove tumors and cancer cells more thoroughly and effectively. Already, University of Pennsylvania researchers have found a way to get cancerous tissues to glow under an infrared light guiding surgeons to the diseased cells. Now, researchers in the UK are testing a laser that beeps when the surgeon’s scalpel approaches the border of cancerous and healthy cells.
The tool is being tested by surgeons at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London performing intricate brain surgeries where removing non-diseased brain tissue can result in debilitating health issues, like paralysis; but removing too little cancer can result in regrowth and metastasis. Using the Core laser probe, developed by Veristante, Inc. of Canada, surgeons are alerted by a beeping sensor when they get to an area abutting healthy tissue. The sensor distinguishes between healthy and cancerous tissue in less than a second.
“Brain surgery is a very complex operation – sometimes even taking just a millimetre too much can cause real damage, such as paralysis or problems with speech,” says neurosurgeon Babar Vaqas of London’s Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, according to a March 28 article in the Daily Mail.
Expert Insight“Having something that will make surgery safer and more accurate could be a real game-changer.”
Like some brain cancers, mesothelioma, a terminal form of cancer caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers, also has a complex, interwoven growth pattern causing the boundaries between malignant tissue and healthy tissue to become blurred. Achieving a macroscopically-complete resection, which refers to the removal of all visible tumor cells, is challenging as surgeons are limited by their tools, and sometimes the look and feel of the cells, when detecting the cancer cells.
Without an automated tool, surgeons must take biopsies, send them to the lab, and await results, all while the patient is on the operating table. However, acting almost like a metal detector, this tool can quickly identify cancerous lesions allowing more cells to be removed.
“Having a device that takes less than a second to tell the difference between healthy and cancerous tissue means we could potentially avoid taking unnecessary biopsies, and also perform more surgeries in a day,” says Vaqas.
Also useful for aiding in the detection of lung cancer, the Core device can determine “with exceptional accuracy if a lesion is malignant or benign,” according to Verisante. The company reports that Core was used to detect lung cancer in over 50 patients “with excellent results.” In addition, Verisante reports the tool proved successful in detecting skin-cancer in a trial of over 1,000 patients.
Mesothelioma patients may benefit from Core as an early detection mechanism for the cancer. Currently, there is not an effective, non-invasive mesothelioma screening tool. Nearly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, with most patients already in an advanced stage. The average survival time for mesothelioma patients is less than a year.
Note: Verisante Aura products used in the detection of skin cancer are available for sale in Canada, Europe and Australia. They are not yet available in the U.S. The company’s Core product is not yet available for sale.
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to test technology which will instantly let surgeons know the difference between healthy and cancerous brain tissue
World first as surgeons spot a brain tumour – with a ‘bleeping pen’: Laser helps surgeons tell the difference between healthy and cancerous tissue