The Spectropen, a hand-held device developed by Emory and Georgia Tech scientists, was designed to help surgeons see the margins of tumors during surgery.
Some of the first results from procedures undertaken with the aid of the Spectropen in human cancer patients were recently published by the journal PLOS One.Â A related paper discussing image-guided removal of pulmonary nodules was just published in Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
To test the Spectropen, biomedical engineer Shuming Nie and his colleagues have been collaborating with thoracic surgeon Sunil Singhal at the University of Pennsylvania.
As described in the PLOS One paper, five patients with cancer in their lungs or chest participated in a pilot study at Penn. They received an injection of the fluorescent dye indocyanine green (ICG) before surgery.
ICG is already FDA-approved for in vivo diagnostics and now used to assess cardiac and liver function. ICG accumulates in tumors more than normal tissue because tumors have leaky blood vessels and membranes. The Spectropen shines light close to the infrared range on the tumor, causing it to glow because of the fluorescent dye.
[This technique resembles the 5-aminolevulinic acid imaging technique for brain tumor surgery being tested by Costas Hadjipanayis, described in Emory Medicine.]
In one case from the PLOS One article, the imaging procedure had some tangible benefits, allowing the surgeons to detect the spread of cancerous cells when other modes of imaging did not. Read more
With the sad news today of the death of actor Patrick Swayze, the public is again focused on pancreatic cancer and searching for more information on this aggressive cancer.
Recently, David Kooby, MD, Emory Winship Cancer Institute, and an assistant professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, authored a blog for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Doctor Is In” on this topic.
Emory Winship Cancer Institute
The following is an excerpt from the blog:
Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive malignancy that begins in the cells of the duct (or tube) running along the length of the pancreas. Each year about 42,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed and more than 35,000 people die from this cancer. A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is usually made after discovery of a mass or a dilated duct in the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Patients often come in for a doctorâ€™s visit with non-specific symptoms such as abdominal or back pain or weight loss. Some patients will develop jaundice (yellowing of the skin) as a result of the tumor blocking the duct draining bile from the liver
No one knows the exact causes of pancreatic cancer, although some risk factors are known through research that has been done.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the following are risk factors for development of pancreatic cancer:
- Age â€” The likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most pancreatic cancers occur in people over the age of 60.
- Smoking â€” Cigarette smokers are two or three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop pancreatic cancer.
- Diabetes mellitus â€” Pancreatic cancer occurs more often in people who have diabetes than in people who do not.
- Being male â€” More men than women are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
- Being African-American â€” African-Americans are more likely than Asians, Hispanics or whites to get pancreatic cancer.