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High-tech glasses to assist cancer surgeons

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Scientists have developed particular glasses with high technology that make it easier for surgeons to distinguish cancer cells from healthy cells.

Designed by the scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the newly invented glasses help surgeons visualize cancer cells, which glow blue when looked through the eyewear.

While cancer cells are difficult to see even under high-powered magnification, the high-tech glasses may provide the guarantee that no stray tumor cells are left behind during surgery.

The glasses were tested for the first time at Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine.

“We’re in the early stages of this technology, and more development and testing will be done, but we’re certainly encouraged by the potential benefits to patients,” said breast surgeon Julie Margenthaler, MD, an associate professor of surgery at Washington University.

Margenthaler is the surgeon who used the glasses in the testing operation, Science daily reported.

In current standard of surgery, the tumor and some neighboring tissue are removed. The tissue which may or may not include cancer cells is viewed under a microscope in a pathology lab.

If cancer cells are identified in neighboring tissue, a second surgery often is recommended to remove additional tissue that is also checked for the presence of cancer.

The newly designed glasses can reduce the need for additional surgical procedures as well as the time, expense and stress imposed on patients.

“About 20 to 25 percent of breast cancer patients who have lumps removed require a second surgery because current technology doesn’t adequately show the extent of the disease during the first operation,” Margenthaler stated.

“Our hope is that this new technology will reduce or ideally eliminate the need for a second surgery,” she said.


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