Probing stomach cancer

18 November 2010

A technique that could be used to distinguish between benign and malignant ulcers in the stomach has been developed by scientists from Singapore.

Gastric cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-associated death in the world and the success of treatment is highly dependent on how quickly the cancer is detected. Currently there is no efficient detection method and patients must undergo repeated endoscopy tests where ulcerous regions are analysed visually and random biopsies are taken. Benign areas look similar to malignant areas and often the cancer can only be diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Now, Zhiwei Huang and colleagues at the National University of Singapore and National University Hospital have developed an endoscopy probe that analyses tissue using Raman spectroscopy. Raman is a non-destructive technique that measures the wavelength of light scattered from a sample. Huang says 'the development of a non-invasive optical diagnostic technique to complement current endoscopic imaging techniques would represent a significant advance, improving early diagnosis of gastric cancer and precancer'.

An endoscopy Raman probe can detect malignant ulcers in vivo

The team tested the probe on a number of patients and found that significant Raman spectral differences between benign and malignant tissue can be delivered. 'This work demonstrates the technical feasibility and clinical potential of using an endoscopy Raman probe for in vivo detection of malignant ulcers,' says Haishan Zeng, an expert in analysing tissue samples at the British Columbia Cancer Research Center, Canada.

Huang hopes that the technique can provide diagnostic information that will give new insights into the biochemical and architectural changes of benign and malignant gastric ulcers, improving in vivo differentiation. The team now aim to develop the technique to look at other internal organs.

Harriet Brewerton


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