Health New optical probe detects breast cancer tissue

New optical probe detects breast cancer tissue

A new optical fibre probe that distinguishes breast cancer tissue from normal tissue has been developed by University of Adelaide researchers – potentially enabling surgeons to be much more precise when removing breast cancer.

Current surgical techniques to remove cancer lack a reliable method to identify the tissue type during surgery, relying on the experience and judgement of the surgeon to decide how much tissue to remove.

Sometimes this can result in the removal of excessive healthy tissue and at other times, some cancerous tissue is left behind.

“How we see it working is the surgeon using the probe to test questionable tissue during surgery,” said project leader Dr Erik Schartner.

“If the readout shows the tissue is cancerous, that can immediately be removed. At present this normally falls to post-operative pathology, which could mean further surgery.”

The device could also help prevent follow-up surgery, currently needed for 15-20% of breast cancer surgery patients where all the cancer is not removed.

The research was in collaboration with the Breast, Endocrine and Surgical Oncology Unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The researchers currently have a portable demonstration unit and are doing further testing. They hope to progress to clinical studies in the near future.

You can find out more about this landmark survey here. Story credit: Monash University Newsroom

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