Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New Technology May Better Distinguish Brain Tumors From Healthy Tissue

Now here’s news that makes me cringe and somewhat hopeful at the same time.

The headline from an article by Sue Hughes posted on - - reports that “New Technology May Better Distinguish Brain Tumors From Healthy Tissue.” 

The article goes on to report that “"This new technology can distinguish what is cancer and what is normal brain tissue better than anything else we have. We are finally cracking the code," according to lead investigator Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, MD, professor of neurosurgery, neuroscience and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.”

While I’m happy that we’re improving our ability to do just that, part of me just cringes when thinking of my brain tumor operation. I mean, was my excellent surgeon just making her best educated guess on what to snip out of my brain?

This next sentence didn’t put my mind at ease: "As a neurosurgeon, I'm in agony when I'm taking out a tumor. If I take out too little, the cancer could come back; too much, and the patient can be permanently disabled. We think optical coherence tomography has strong potential for helping surgeons know exactly where to cut."

Yikes! Maybe she did (just) make her best, albeit expert, guess. Haven’t surgeons been able to detect/identify/spot those nasty brain tumors accurately?

"It is not like in other areas on the body where extra tissue can be taken to be on the safe side. You can't do this in the brain. We obviously do not want to remove healthy brain cells, as this could compromise speech, motor and cognitive function. So we end up leaving parts of the tumor in. With OCT we can be much more accurate."

Argghh! This article makes me suspect that our “state of the art” technology to date is going to look awfully dated in a couple of years, if not look like the dark ages.

Here’s a link to the article:  

For you brainiacs, amateur scientists or just those thirsting for more information, here’s a link to the study abstract published in Science Translational Medicine:

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