New Breast Cancer Device Makes Surgery More Precise

New Device Distinguishes Breast Cancer Tissue From Normal Tissue

A new tool just created makes surgery more precise in removing breast cancer, cutting the risk of follow-up surgery.

Thanks to the brilliant ideas of University of Adelaide researchers who have developed an optical fiber probe that distinguishes breast cancer tissue from normal tissue.

Dr Erik Schartner, project leader and postdoctoral researcher at the CNBP at the University of Adelaide, said, “We have designed and tested a fiber-tip pH probe that has very high sensitivity for differentiating between healthy and cancerous tissue with an extremely simple – so far experimental – setup that is fully portable.”

With this great discovery, the device could help prevent follow-up surgery, currently needed for 15-20% of breast cancer surgery patients where all the cancer is not removed.

The creators of this new device are researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, and the Schools of Physical Sciences and Medicine.

Surgeons remove cancerous tissue.
Group of surgeons removing a cancerous tissues of a breast.

How It Works

One of the interesting features of the optical probe is its ability to detect the difference in pH between the two types of tissue.

The optical fiber probe uses the principle that cancer tissue has a more acidic environment than normal cells. This cancer tissue produces more lactic acid as a byproduct of their aggressive growth.

How does it work? The new device has a pH indicator embedded in the tip of the optical probe that emits a different color of light depending on the acidity. A miniature spectrometer on the other end of the probe analyses the light and therefore the pH.

How we see it working is the surgeon using the probe to test questionable tissue during surgery,” says Dr Schartner. “If the readout shows the tissues are cancerous, that can immediately be removed.

Breast Cancer is Deadly

According to World health Organization, breast cancer is deadly and considered the top cancer in women both in the developed and the developing world. However, recent studies point to the incidence of breast cancer increasing in the developing world due to increased life expectancy, increased urbanization and adoption of western lifestyles.

WHO says it is estimated that worldwide more than 508,000 women died in 2011 due to breast cancer.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.