Handheld blue light tool drives new surgical approach to early-stage oral cancer

Giving patients diagnosed with early-stage oral cancer new hope, a Phase III clinical trial at the Terry Fox Research Institute presents a new surgical approach guided by an existing handheld light tool for the removal of tumors or pre-cancerous cells in the mouth.

Giving patients diagnosed with early-stage oral cancer new hope, a Phase III clinical trial at the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI; Vancouver, BC, Canada) presents a new surgical approach guided by an existing handheld light tool for the removal of tumors or pre-cancerous cells in the mouth.

The surgeons will use fluorescence visualization (FV)—or "blue light"—provided by the optical tool rather than traditional white light to determine the tissue to be removed. Under the blue light, normal tissue generates a fluorescence that is absent in tumor or pre-cancerous tissue. The study will aim to spare normal, healthy tissue from surgery while catching high-risk, pre-cancerous tissue identified through FV.

The $4.7 million Canadian Optically Guided Approach for Oral Lesions Surgical Trial—known as the COOLS Study—could change clinical practice in Canada and worldwide for this kind of cancer for the better. In work that the researchers have conducted to date in Vancouver, there has been almost no recurrence where surgery followed the contour of the lesion shown by using FV-guided surgery, according to principal investigator Dr. Catherine Poh, a senior scientist with the BC Cancer Agency and oral pathologist and associate professor, University of British Columbia and oral pathologist and consulting dentist, Vancouver General Hospital. "Working together with surgeons, pathologists, research staff and scientists, this TFRI-funded study will enable us to test the approach on a broader cohort of patients at sites across the country and obtain the evidence required to change current practice," she says.

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Posted by Lee Mather

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