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Home Industry News Optical fibre probe ‘could aid breast cancer surgery’

Optical fibre probe ‘could aid breast cancer surgery’

1st December 2016

A new optical fibre probe that distinguishes breast cancer tissue from normal tissue could be used to improve the precise targeting of surgical interventions.

Developed by a team from the University of Adelaide, the probe works by detecting the difference in pH between the two types of tissue. Cancer tissue has a more acidic environment than normal cells, as they produce more lactic acid as a byproduct of their growth.

A pH indicator embedded in the tip of the probe emits a different colour of light depending on the acidity, with a miniature spectrometer on the other end analysing the light to give an indication of pH levels.

This test has been developed into a portable demonstration unit that may hopefully be used in clinical studies in the near future. It has the potential to allow surgeons to be much more precise when removing breast cancer, thus helping to prevent follow-up surgery, which is currently needed in 15 to 20 percent of cases where the whole cancer is not removed.

Dr Erik Schartner, postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at the University of Adelaide, said: "Because it is cost-effective to do measurements in this manner compared to many other medical technologies, we see a clear scope for this technology in operating theaters."

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