Glowing Dye Technology May Guide Future Mesothelioma Surgeries

An exciting new technology being tested by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania may represent a significant positive change in mesothelioma surgery. It could enhance surgeons’ ability to remove previously hidden cells of the rare asbestos-related disease, as well as those of all other types of cancer.

Mesothelioma Tumor Removal Is A Challenge

When surgeons set out to remove a malignant mesothelioma tumor, it is difficult to distinguish where the tumor ends and healthy tissue begins. This difficulty is present in almost all cancer resections. Now researchers from the renowned University of Pennsylvania are investigating the use of a glowing dye that is drawn to tumor cells.  The technique will provide a beacon for surgeons that can guide them directly to cancerous cells that might otherwise be left behind.  

Though the tool is currently in the testing phase, it offers great promise for surgeons confronted with malignant mesothelioma tumors and other aggressive cancers that are notoriously difficult to remove. When cancer cells are left behind, they have the opportunity to metastasize to other parts of the body. The more cancer is removed, the greater the impact on the patient’s prognosis

Dye Distinguishes Cancer Cells from Healthy Tissue

Though there are significant differences between mesothelioma cells and other types of cancer cells, there are also commonalities that make this technology particularly useful. One is a tendency for blood vessels that feed malignant tumors to leak more than regular blood vessels do. This characteristic facilitates the accumulation of the fluorescent dye known as indocyanine green (ICG) in cancer cells. 

The technique is currently being evaluated during surgeries on dogs with mammary tumors. The animals are injected with the FDA-approved dye prior to their surgical procedures. The excised tumors, surgical sites and lymph nodes are then examined to see how and where the dye accumulated. Researchers have found that the larger the tumor, the more dye accumulates. Importantly, they were also able to pinpoint cancer cells that had traveled to the lymph nodes. 

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, surgery is a powerful tool that can extend survival. For information on accessing the best medical care as well as other resources, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608. 

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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