Fluorescent dye coupled with camera imaging shows promise for colon cancer treatment

Oct. 14, 2010
The spread of colon cancer cells from the primary site to distant locations in the body has been difficult to treat. Now, thanks to fluorescent dye solution and minimally invasive infrared ray laparoscopy surgery with a special camera, that has changed.

The spread of colon cancer cells from the primary site to distant locations in the body has been difficult to treat. Now, thanks to fluorescent dye solution and minimally invasive infrared ray laparoscopy surgery with a special camera, that has changed. Medical consultants across the world are impressed by this latest breakthrough at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam (VU), as reported by Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

If you’re in time, colon cancer is generally regarded as treatable. But once metastasis occurs, it is difficult to locate the malignant cells. This is often because the so-called sentinel lymph node is embedded in a layer of fatty tissue.

Now a special camera has been developed, which, together with a fluorescent non-toxic indocyanine green dye (ICG), can almost effortlessly locate the sentinel lymph node. The procedure is carried out using laparoscopy, or keyhole surgery, performed through a small incision—so the patient’s abdomen doesn’t need to be opened. The breakthrough is the work of surgeon Jeroen Meijerink and his doctoral student Martijn van der Pas at the Department of Surgery in Amsterdam’s VU University.

“An ICG solution, salt and albumin protein are injected into the patient at the site of the primary tumor,” explains Dr. van der Pas. “The solution then travels to the sentinel lymph node. The camera and surgical instruments enter the gland. The camera has a special filter that detects the fluorescence in the lymph node, which is removed to test for further cancerous cells.”

Several patients have already been treated using this method in the cities of Amsterdam and Haarlem and the results are “exceptionally good," Dr. van der Pas adds, who has already presented the findings in the U.S., while Japan and some other countries are next on the agenda.

Dr. van der Pas expects that fluorescence will be used in diagnosing and treating other forms of cancer in the near future: “For example, cervical or stomach cancer. The idea is to attach a fluorescent solution to antibodies which can recognize tumors and cancer cells. The affected cells would then light up, so that we know exactly where they’re located in the body. But we’ll need something stronger than ICG; a U.S. laboratory is currently conducting research on it.”

Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Posted by Lee Mather

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