New Imaging-Guided System Helps Surgeons Remove Tiny Ovarian Tumors

New Imaging-Guided System Helps Surgeons Remove Tiny Ovarian Tumors
A new imaging-guided surgical technique that makes ovarian cancer tumors glow under near-infrared light can help surgeons remove tumors as small as 0.3 millimeters, a study in mice shows. The approach also increased mice's lifespan by 40% compared to mice treated with standard non-imaging-guided surgery. Researchers are now working to move this surgical technique into human trials. The study, “Real-Time Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube-Based Fluorescence Imaging Improves Survival After Debulking Surgery In An Ovarian Cancer Model,” was published in the journal ACS Nano. Ovarian cancer is among the deadliest cancers in women, mostly because nearly 75% of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage, where treatment approaches fall short. The gold-standard treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery — called debulking surgery — which aims to remove all visible tumor. However, some ovarian tumors are very small or hidden, making surgeons unable to remove the tumor entirely. Scientists have been working on imaging devices that could help surgeons identify very small tumors during surgery, and found that a special type of imaging based on near-infrared light could penetrate living tissues with high efficacy while providing high resolution. This imaging system uses chemical probes — made of single-walled carbon nanotubes — that bind SPARC, a protein found in invasive ovarian cancer cells, and emit fluorescent light when illuminated by a laser. Researchers hoped that by providing continuous near-infrared light into the abdomen, surgeons would be able to detect eve
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