Fluorescent probe can detect oral cancers

A scientist at UC Davis has found that fluorescent light and lasers can help locate oral tumors and cancers. Laura Marcu, a professor of biomedical engineering, used a laser probe with nine UC Davis patients and found her device can accurately detect the edges of mouth, pharynx and larynx tumors. In 2007, Marcu published findings on a similar probe she developed for brain surgery.

While Marcu's probe isn't a preventative measure, its use could mean less invasive procedures. The probe's laser stimulates cells in the oral cavity, causing some to emit a fluorescent light. Using "time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy," the device analyzes the cells, helping surgeons know where the tumor ends and healthy tissue begins.

"There's a lot out there about breast, prostate and brain cancer, but people are not so aware about oral cancer and its devastating consequences," Marcu tells Medical News Today. "People don't think to look for it, and there isn't any routine screening." Some 43,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancers every year. And although most cases are caused by smoking, scientists have found links to human papillomavirus as well.

Marcu's study will be published in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

- check out the Medical News Today article