According to Medical XPress, Australian researchers have discovered a new and more effective way to detect remaining cancerous tissue in patients with breast cancer during surgery. This technique will assist in finding cancerous tissues or tumors that cannot be otherwise discovered through sight, feel, or X-ray imagery. Read the full study in Cancer Research.
New Breast Cancer Detection Tool
This new technique blends two types of imagery:
- Micro-elastography, which measures tissue elasticity. In this study, the researchers created 3D portrayals of tissue elasticity in the breasts.
- Optical coherence tomography, which uses light waves to create 3D tissue images. It has often been used in ophthalmology. The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes OCT as a tool that can take cross-section pictures of tissue to measure thickness and other factors.
Now, why is this? Well, cancerous cells are generally thicker and stiffer than non-cancerous tissues. This is why many patients with cancer develop solid tumors. After doctors removed a tumor, they could then measure using this technology to determine if any stiff, non-elastic cells remained in the surrounding breast tissue.
In the past, this has been an issue. According to the researchers:
“Surgeons must routinely rely on their eyesight and sense of touch to determine if they have removed the entire tumor during breast-conserving surgery.”
But because of human error and tools lacking accuracy, up to 30% of patients need to undergo a second surgery.
The study followed 90 patients with breast cancer who pursued surgical treatment options. Researchers used both imaging options to determine if they could increase the specificity of their findings.
They found that micro-elastography was more accurate than OCT alone. Thus, using the techniques together could help conserve breast tissue while reducing the need for additional surgical procedures.