A new light-scattering tool is able to detect structural changes happening in pre-cancerous or cancerous pancreatic lesions, through a highly accurate, minimally-invasive method.
Typically pancreatic cancer survival rates are very low due to a lack of diagnostic tools that can catch the disease in its early stages.
Pancreatic Cancer Test
Using light scattering spectroscopy (LSS), researchers led by Lev T. Perelman, Ph.D., director of the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging and Photonics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, bounced light off tissues and analyzed the reflected spectrum.
“About one-fifth of pancreatic cancers develop from cysts, but not all lesions are cancerous,” Perelman said in a prepared statement. “Considering the high risk of pancreatic surgeries and the even higher mortality from untreated pancreatic cancers, there’s an obvious need for new diagnostic methods to accurately identify the pancreatic cysts that need surgical intervention and those that do not.”
Although imaging technologies such as CT and MRI scans have helped doctors identify pancreatic cysts more and more frequently, they fall short in the ability to give information about the cysts’ malignancy. The new tool, which still needs further testing, could one day help physicians decide whether a pancreatic cyst requires surgery or not.
The LSS technique was 95 percent accurate at identifying malignant cysts, compared to 58 percent accuracy for cytology, which is the only pre-operative test currently available.
The researchers analyzed the reflected light from 13 cysts taken from recent surgeries and compared their findings to a number of other methods used to determine malignancy including pre-operative imaging, fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies, and post-surgery tissue analysis. The LSS technique came to the same diagnosis as the post-operative analysis in every case, according to the researchers.
In another test, researchers inserted a miniature experimental LSS fiber-optic probe into the FNA needle in patients who were undergoing the standard FNA biopsy. An FNA biopsy extracts fluid from the cyst, which is then examined for cancer cells, but only detects cancer about half of the time. All nine patients who received a confirmed diagnosis as cancerous or benign, were accurately diagnosed by LSS.
The team will further measure the LSS technique’s accuracy by evaluating post-operative tissues.
The preliminary findings were reported March 13 in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Pancreatic Cancer Test