Glowing Dye is Helping Doctors Locate Rare, Hidden Cancer

According to a story from CBS DFW, doctors have begun to test the use of fluorescent dyes in order to detect hidden cancer tumors. So far, the dyes appear to be quite effective in detecting tumors that doctors may have otherwise missed. This technology may have the potential to improve a doctor’s ability to diagnose cancer; many rare types of cancer, like ovarian cancer and esophageal cancer, are often deadly because they often do not present symptoms until they have reach an advanced stage. An earlier diagnosis could help save the lives of many rare cancer patients.

Just as importantly, the dye will also increase the effectiveness of cancer removal surgery. Surgery can be a highly effective option for helping to treat many types of cancer. When surgery does not work, it is often because the surgeons were unable to remove the entire tumor, or that there was a well concealed area of cancer that they failed to identify and remove. Fluorescent dyes could go a long way to helping resolve this problem, which will increase the effectiveness of surgical procedures.

Currently, the dyes are still in the testing stage, and have not yet received approval for public use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, it should not be too long before they become available. The dyes have been tested on a variety of different cancer types, such as ovarian, lung, brain, and breast cancer. The dyes may have the greatest impact on breast cancer. Surgery is a common treatment option for breast cancer, but nearly a third of patients have to go back for a second operation because some of the cancer was unintentionally left behind. Increasing the precision of surgery could lead to significant improvement in outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Many of the most recent advances in cancer treatment have been from the development of new drugs and treatment approaches. However, a need to improve the quality of surgery has been present for a long time. These dyes definitely have the potential to help address this problem, and advances in surgery are commonly overlooked, with most cancer research focusing on new drug development. With this new technology, surgery may become a much better option for a lot of rare cancer patients.

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