Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Non-Surgical Cancer Diagnosis
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) began collaborating with the Thompson Cancer Survival Center in Knoxville, Tennessee to develop a laser-based, non-surgical method for diagnosing cancer. This diagnostic instrument uses a fiber-optic endoscope, requires no tissue sample during the procedure, and provides immediate diagnostic results. Conventional methods of biopsy diagnosis require a tissue sample and usually a lengthy turnaround period for laboratory analysis.
Fluorescence of tissue for tumor diagnostics has drawn some interest in the medical community since the 1950s. With the advent of the laser, interest has been renewed and various research groups have demonstrated a potential method which uses laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) for tumor diagnosis. Researchers have based the LIF diagnostic method on the differential normalized fluorescence (DNF) procedure.
The DNF procedure produces a normalization process; an enhancement of small but consistent, spectral differences; and an improvement in the diagnostic accuracy. The diagnostic instrument consists of a fiber-optic endoscope with two sets of bundles. One set delivers a low-energy, pulsed laser light to the tissue. The other set collects the resulting fluorescent light and carries it to a photometric detector and computer to be digitized and stored for analysis. Signal intensity from the tissue determines its diagnosis. Normal tissue yields a more intense signal than malignant tissues. However, signal intensity may also depend on non-physiological factors such as tissue distance from the endoscope. To account for these factors, the diagnosis also relies on a spectral analysis method which highlights subtle differences between normal and malignant tissue.
Clinical evaluation of this new, non-invasive technique proves to be almost 100% successful with esophageal cancer. Currently, the procedure is being tested on cancerous tumors of the colon, cervix, lungs, and urinary bladder. U.S. patents are pending for the laser-based, non-surgical technology. In addition, ORNL has recently licensed this technology to two U.S. companies for cancer diagnosis.
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