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Glowing Tumors Improve Surgical Outcomes

Update Date: Jul 30, 2014 12:20 PM EDT
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The best way to cure maximum cases of cancer is to surgically remove the tumor. However not every time surgeons are able to extract the entire tumor which leads to local recurrence. 

In a newly devised approach, surgeons will be able to see the entire tumor in the patient, increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome. The approach involves injecting a dye that accumulates in cancerous tissues much more so than normal tissues. Upon shinning the infrared light on the cancer, it glows, helping the surgeons to remove the entire malignancy. 

"Surgeons have had two things that tell where a cancer is during surgery: their eyes and their hands," said David Holt, first author on the study and professor of surgery in Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine. "This technique is offering surgeons another tool, to light tumors up during surgery."

Between 20 and 50 percent of caner patients who undergo surgery end up have having a local recurrence of their cancer, which indicates a failure in extraction of the diseased tissue from the site. Identifying the extension of a tumor is difficult in a procedure and as of now surgeons generally do this by simply looking at the tumor and feeling for differences with their fingers. 

The detailed study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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