An imaging technique avoids biopsy in patients with melanoma
A sophisticated imaging technique could detect melanoma with the same precision as a biopsy. This new system could “rule” to melanoma patients with lymph node to avoid unnecessary surgery that carries risks for the patient.
The research is the first to be carried out in humans and has demonstrated that the technique detected cancer progression to lymph nodes in patients with melanoma, which offers a possible alternative to lymph node biopsies are invasive. Researchers at the German Cancer Consortium claim that the method will prevent unnecessary surgery.
Cases of melanoma are on a steady increase. Because the cancer is spread to the most distant organs via the lymph nodes found in the environment, often called sentinel nodes in patients where there is a suspicion that cancer may develop in the future are removed.
To conduct their study, Ingo Stoffels group used a non-invasive and non-radioactive multispectral system called photoacoustic tomography to display the presence of melanin, a pigment found in melanoma tumor cell. In combination with a fluorescent ink (used to confirm the location of the node) and a manual switch MSOT, researchers have found that the technique is able to identify a tissue sample based on the acoustic energy they produce in response to the emitted light.
So, thanks to this system the researchers located metastases in the lymph nodes in vivo of 20 patients with melanoma. Moreover, they note, outperformed radioactive images obtained from biopsy. In fact, with the new technique negatives they did not identify false (ie, false cancer cases when in fact he had), suggesting that patients whose lymph nodes are free of cancer can, with confidence, not to have lymph surgery.
According to scientists the new system could be used to identify lymph node metastases in other cancers using different contrast agents.