Researchers at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) are using Raman spectroscopy to more effectively detect ovarian cancer at an early stage and thereby improve the chances for survival. Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of any gynecologic cancer and is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among US women, claiming more than 13,000 lives each year in the USA alone. Because the disease often shows no obvious symptoms until it is well advanced, two-thirds of women are already in the later stages when they are first diagnosed.
Raman spectra from selected samples were measured relative to the excitation wavelength and analyzed using multivariate statistical techniques. All ovarian tissues studied revealed a number of significant Raman bands that generally differed between tissue categories. Peaks were observed only in certain pathologies. From these studies, the researchers concluded that Raman spectroscopy can enhance the predictive capabilities of conventional diagnostic techniques for ovarian cancer and are planning an in vivo study to gain further data.—Kathy Kincade, contributing editor