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Need to Know: How Surgeons See Cancer in the Dark

Health & Wellness  (tags: Cancer, new techique, surgery )

- 1874 days ago -
"The goal is to be able to detect very small cells," Achilefu says. "And the current imaging systems are not capable of doing that."


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Kit B (276)
Friday May 30, 2014, 7:46 am
Photo from Tech Know - Al Jazeera

For Dr. Sam Achilefu, the director of Washington University School of Medicine's Optical Radiology Lab, the challenge in cancer-removing surgery was clear.

“Surgeons told me that one of their problems is seeing beautiful static images of MRI and CT scans—but then when you go into the operating room you have truly nothing,” he tells “TechKnow” in this week’s episode. “It’s like walking in the dark.”

During surgery, the goal is to take out all of the cancerous tissue—and the rim of tissue around it, known as the surgical margins. After removal, this tissue is examined. If the cancer cells come to the edge of the tissue—or just too close to the tissue—additional surgery may be recommended.

According to the National Institutes of Health, between 20 and 25 percent of all breast cancer patients must undergo additional surgeries, and skin melanomas almost always require at least a secondary surgery to get a wide enough margin.

“The goal is to be able to detect very small cells,” Achilefu says. “And the current imaging systems are not capable of doing that.”

So Achilefu developed infrared goggles that are now in an early experimental phase, being tested for accuracy. And so far, they are confirming earlier tests that detected cancerous cells with high accuracy—and allowing surgeons to more precisely target what additional tissue on the margins needs to be removed.

******See full gallery of pictures at SITE****

Tech Know - Saturdays 7:30 p.m. ET --- Al Jazeera America

JL A (281)
Friday May 30, 2014, 8:05 am
Sounds like it should reduce repeat surgeries for at least some.

Panchali Yapa (26)
Friday May 30, 2014, 10:59 am
Thank you

Birgit W (160)
Friday May 30, 2014, 4:06 pm
Amazing, thanks for shring.

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday May 30, 2014, 4:40 pm
Noted. Thanks for this marvelous info, Kit.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn (42)
Friday May 30, 2014, 11:36 pm
Interesting! Thanks, Kit.

Jonathan Harper (0)
Saturday May 31, 2014, 7:51 am

Panchali Yapa (26)
Saturday May 31, 2014, 11:24 am

S J (124)
Saturday May 31, 2014, 6:44 pm
thankfully noted, I have many friends have cancer. I hope that it really works finally.

Diane K (134)
Sunday June 1, 2014, 8:10 am
Good info. thx
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