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Light reflectance technique improves ability to remove prostate cancer during surgery

18 March 2016 | News
by Ian Michael

Researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA, have determined that light reflectance spectroscopy can differentiate between malignant and benign prostate tissue with 85% accuracy, a finding that may lead to real-time tissue analysis during prostate cancer surgery. Benefits of this procedure include highly accurate surgical removal of all cancerous tissue and the ability to spare more healthy tissue, minimising the likelihood of cancer recurrence or additional treatment. A follow-up study is needed before this procedure could be implemented, however.

“We used a novel light reflectance spectroscopy probe to evaluate surgical margins on radical prostatectomy tissue specimens and correlated the findings with pathological examination,” said Dr Jeffrey Cadeddu, Professor of Urology and Radiology at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study, which was published recently in the The Journal of Urology.

Light reflectance spectroscopy measures light intensity reflected or backscattered from tissues. When someone has prostate cancer, a radical prostatectomy is often called for in which the prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue is surgically removed. Due to the amount of time involved with traditional techniques and the lack of proven clinical usefulness, analysis to determine removal of all cancer surrounding the visible tumour’s edges is not routinely performed during surgery. As such, undetectable cancer cells can be left behind and are termed “positive surgical margins”.

Patients with intermediate- to high-risk disease requiring radical prostatectomy were enrolled in the study. Immediately after the prostate gland was removed, light reflectance spectroscopy was performed on suspected malignant and benign prostate margins. Each sample was analysed and correlated with pathological samples, which were analysed post-surgery. Light reflectance spectroscopy analysis was performed on 17 prostate gland specimens, on which a total of 11 histologically positive and 22 negative surgical margins were measured. The optical probe predicted positive surgical margins with 85% sensitivity, 86%t specificity and 86% accuracy.

“This study highlights one of a growing number of technology platforms that aim to improve the outcomes of cancer surgery”, said Dr Cadeddu. “Further study is required to determine whether such analysis may be used in real time to improve surgical decision-making and decrease the amount of tissue surgeons need to remove.”

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