The field of medicine has been aided and improved through the use of versatile lighting technology. But now, the general impact that light scattering spectroscopy could yield in the world of cancer treatment is becoming more apparent, specifically, in this example, regarding the treatment and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. As a new technique being pioneered by the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging and Photonics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston becomes more well-known, the hope is that light scattering spectroscopy can raise the survival rate amongst patients. Lighting measurement instrumentation is but one facet of this varied medical technology.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of the disease, mainly because it is very difficult to catch early without invasive techniques. Lev T. Perelman, Ph.D., is the leader of the team that created an impressive instrument said to be capable of detecting the difference between pancreatic cysts and malignant tumors with a 95% accuracy. The findings were first announced this March in Nature Biomedical Engineering. Non-invasive accuracy readings on this magnitude would be a huge leap forward for the entire field.
The light scattering spectroscope (LSS) has the ability to distinguish between cysts and cancerous tumors by bouncing light off tissues and taking a look at the feedback this ray shows on the spectrum. Currently, although MRIs and CT scans can detect pancreatic cysts, the only way to find out if they are indeed cancerous is through surgery to collect a piece of the pancreatic tissue. There is a system called cytology, which is the only actual pre-operative technique, but it is successful 58% of the time. This isn’t an accurate enough rate to make a call of the presence of cancer cells.
As noted, if the LSS can get detection up to 95% or higher, surgery to determine cancer risk on cysts would be much rarer, an obvious positive result for the patient. Dr. Perelman put the need for such a revolutionary light-based tool thusly:
- “Considering the high risk of pancreatic surgeries and the even higher mortality from untreated pancreatic cancers, there’s an obvious need for new diagnostic methods to accurately identify the pancreatic cysts that need surgical intervention and those that do not.”
New innovations based on lighting measurement instrumentation continue to impress the medical field. The hope for patients of the future is a world where diagnostic abilities for diseases can be done easily and without harm; in such a world, treatment would be much more likely to be successful and cancer more likely to be diagnosed in its earlier, more treatable, stages. Tools like the LSS are vanguard technologies, the type we look forward to seeing more from in the future.