glowing tumor

A flourescent  dye technique that makes tumors glow is showing promise for cancer treatment, Penn Medicine says.

The Philadelphia-based parent company of Lancaster General Health reported that surgeons at its Penn Center for Precision Surgery originally developed the technique to treat lung cancer.

Since then, they reported testing the experimental technique in more than 300 surgeries on various types of cancer, including a successful one on a Lancaster County resident who had surgery for a complicated brain tumor in January.

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"It is difficult to identify the margins of the tumor with current approaches," the health system said. "Cancer tissue not visible to the naked eye or felt by fingers is often missed during tumor removal, leading to recurrence in some patients – about 20 to 50 percent."

A study recently published in the medical journal Neurosurgery found that 12 of 15 brain tumors studied glowed strongly during surgery when viewed with near-infrared imaging.

“This technique, if approved by the FDA, may offer great promise to physicians and patients,” said center co-director Dr. Sunil Singhal. “It’s a strategy that could allow greater precision across many different cancer types, help with early detection, and hopefully better treatment success.”

A January article in Forbes reported that companies already had flourescence-guided probes for ovarian cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer and sarcomas in trials. 

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