Imaging probe provides breast cancer surgery breakthrough

03/11/2022 | 2 mins

The inventors of a hand-held probe, designed to more accurately identify cancerous tissue during breast conserving surgery, said the first human trials had shown it could find cancer that was difficult for surgeons to see or feel.

One of the device’s inventors, Professor Brendan Kennedy, from The University of Western Australia’s School of Engineering and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research’s BRITELab, said it was used in 21 operations. 

“The device provides a map of tissue stiffness on the micro-scale because cancer is typically stiffer than surrounding tissue,” Professor Kennedy said.

breast cancer probe using in surgery FSH image 

Image: Fiona Stanley Hospital.

“This image may enable surgeons to more effectively remove cancer during surgery.

“It’s fantastic to see the technology progressing to the first in-surgery human trials.” 

The study, Quantitative micro-elastography enables in vivo detection of residual cancer in the surgical cavity during breast-conserving surgery, by researchers at UWA and Harry Perkins Institute was published in Cancer Research.

Professor Kennedy said surgeons felt for residual cancer after removing tumours but some patients needed to return for further operations which could add to cost and psychological pressure and delay other treatments. 

“We are very excited that the imaging probe is now undergoing commercial development by OncoRes Medical and hopefully it will improve surgery for patients around the world and reduce the need for follow-up operations,” Professor Kennedy said.

Co-inventor Dr Peijun Gong, also from UWA’s School of Engineering, said the study showed there was potential to detect breast cancer based on micro-scale stiffness in tissues and earlier bench-top studies had shown a high diagnostic accuracy of 96 per cent. 

“As an engineer, it is very rewarding to see our technical development leading to this clinical translation,” Dr Gong said.

Media references

Cecile O’Connor   (UWA Media & PR Advisor)     6488 6876

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