Glasses help surgeons detect cancerous tissue during surgery

American scientists have developed glasses that should make it easier for surgeons to detect cancer tissue during surgery. This should ensure that less healthy tissue has to be excised.

The glasses ensure that cancer cells in the view of doctors are colored blue. For this, however, a substance must be injected into the patient that specifically recognizes cancer cells, according to scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine. The injected substance is fluorescent and emits light that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Experiments with mice show that the concept with fluorescent cancer cells can help surgeons: it turned out to be possible with the glasses to detect tumors with a diameter of 1 mm. However, the scientists still want to ensure that the fluorescent substance remains longer in the cancer tissue: experiments are still being done with another fluorescent substance, which ultimately has to be approved by the authorities.

During operations on cancer patients, some healthy tissue is also removed when the tumor is removed. This happens because, despite the use of microscopes, it is usually difficult to see where the boundary between healthy and tumor tissue is. The glasses should therefore be able to detect cancer tissue better, which could lead to fewer follow-up operations and less excised healthy tissue.

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