The technology developed by researchers based in the United States of America will help the doctors to ascertain the growth of the cancer and to decide which tissue to remove.
[Read: What are Cancer Markers?]
According to Quyen T Nguyen, the associate professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, the technique will eliminate the unnecessary removal of healthy lymph nodes.
"With molecular-targeted imaging, surgeons can avoid unnecessary removal of healthy lymph nodes which is better long-term for patients. The range of the surgeon's visual field is greatly enhanced by a molecular tool that can help achieve accurate surgical margins and detection of metastases so that no tumour is left behind," Nguyen said.
Lymph nodes, which are only half a centimetre in size serves as filters that contain immune cells to fight cancer and clean the blood. When the malignant cells spread from a tumour, they hide in these tiny lymph nodes, making it difficult for the surgeons to discern among the surrounding tissue during surgery.
There is no current technique that indicates whether or not the lymph nodes contain cancer, requiring unnecessary removal of more lymph nodes than needed.
"This research is significant because it shows real-time intra-operative detection of cancer metastases in mice. In the future, surgeons will be better able to detect and stage cancer that has spread to the patient's lymph nodes using molecules that were designed and developed at UC San Diego," Nguyen added.
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