A technique which lights up tumour cells during surgery could help those who suffer from ovarian cancer.
Now doctors may spot undetectable tumours measuring just a tenth of a millimetre, dramatically improving success rate in tricky cancer operations.
Researchers added a fluorescent marker to a form of folic acid – which gets attached to ovarian cancer cells – which they injected into patients two hours before surgery, the Daily Mail reports.
Using a special camera, they were able to highlight cancer cells and display them as green glowing patches on a monitor.
Biochemistry professor Philip Low, from Purdue University in Indiana, the US, who invented the technique, said: “It allowed surgeons to spot a tumour 30 times smaller than the smallest they could detect using standard techniques.”
“By dramatically improving the detection of the cancer – by literally lighting it up – removal has dramatically improved.”
Around 6,800 cases of ovarian cancer are identified in Britain each year. Two-thirds of those diagnosed will die from it. It is extremely difficult to locate ovarian cancer which is often spotted at a late stage, when it is too late.
Surgeons using traditional methods, which rely on vision and touch, often miss small tumours – containing clusters of cells which are less than three mm wide.
However, those involved in a trial of the new fluorescence-guided technique found an average of 34 tumours – compared with an average of seven using current methods.