Raman Spectroscopy Probe Could Improve Outcomes In Brain Cancer Surgery

 Imaging technique tells tumor tissue from normal tissue, could be used in operating room for real-time guidance of surgery

Imaging technique tells tumour tissue from normal tissue, could be used in operating room for real-time guidance of surgery

Gliomas represent 30% of all brain tumours, and 80% of them are malignant. Brain tumours are the leading cause of death in children under the age of 20.

One of the big problems with brain tumours is that a surgeon can never really be sure that they have managed to remove all the cancerous cells, which is why brain tumours often recur, and when they come back they are normally very virulent.

While traditional imaging technology such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can identify solid tumours easily, they often cannot detect cancerous cells that have invaded healthy tissue on the periphery of the tumour.

Scientists from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro, McGill University, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and Polytechnique Montréal have developed a new intraoperative probing technique that could increase survival odds for patients with brain cancer.

According to the study published findings in Science Translational Medicine (STM), the Raman spectroscopy probe, which is a hand-held device that uses laser technology to measure scattered light and provide more specific information about the molecular makeup of targeted brain tissue, can be used during surgery to accurately identify almost all invasive brain cancer cells that other methods could potentially miss.

The STM study said, “Using this probe intraoperatively, we were able to accurately differentiate normal brain from dense cancer and normal brain invaded by cancer cells, with a sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 91 %.


Brain cancer patients may live longer thanks to a new cancer-detection method developed by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital and Polytechnique Montréal. The collaborative team has created a powerful new intraoperative probe for detecting cancer cells. The hand-held Raman spectroscopy probe enables surgeons, for the first time, to accurately detect virtually all invasive brain cancer cells in real time during surgery. The probe is superior to existing technology and could set a new standard for successful brain cancer surgery thereby extending survival times for brain cancer patients. Learn more: http://www.mcgill.ca/neuro


According to Kevin Petrecca, Chief of Neurosurgery at The Neuro and co-senior author of the study, “Often it is impossible to visually distinguish between cancer from normal brain, so invasive brain cancer cells frequently remain after surgery, leading to cancer recurrence and a worse prognosis.”

The results from the probe appear on a laptop within seconds of coming into contact with brain tissue, allowing surgeons to perform more thorough resections.

The probe was tested out on patients diagnosed with grade 2, 3, and 4 invasive gliomas and it was found that the probe was equally effective in detecting cancer cells from all three grades.

Not everyone was that convinced however, and Mark Bernstein, a neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital said that removing every cancerous cell could damage brain function and that genetic markers that put the patient at risk of cancer in the first place could cause a recurrence regardless of how many cancerous cells are removed.

The research team have announced that they will launch a clinical trial at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital to confirm whether or not the new system improved outcomes for patients with glioblastoma.



About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 15 March, 2016, in Blog, Brain Cancer, Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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