Monday, April 15, 2024

FAU Researchers Pioneer New Cancer Treatment

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) researchers are laying the groundwork to use a tried-and-true approach for diagnosing cancerous tissue. The method accurately targets malignancies and vaporizes them, leaving healthy tissue unharmed.

These researchers published their work last December in the scientific journalLasers in Surgery and Medicine. The study focused on skin cancer and is interesting on many levels.

“When a surgeon removes a cancer, whether it be with Mohs surgery for skin cancer or a surgeon using a robot in a modern operating room for abdominal cancer, the surgeon must rely on vision and touch to help decide initially how much tissue to remove,” says Dr. John Strasswimmer, a skin cancer specialist and director of the Melanoma and Cutaneous Oncology Program at the Lynn Cancer Institute and Moffitt Cancer Network.

Laser technology, pioneered at FAU, could help surgeons better determine if an area is cancerous or healthy tissue. And when this technology is combined with laser cancer treatment, it lays the groundwork for laser robotic treatment of cancer, according to an FAU press release.

The result is a potentially faster, more accurate type of cancer treatment using laser technology.

This is the scoop: Raman spectroscopy is a tool scientists use for imaging biological materials (such as skin tissue) and tissue diagnosis. The local researchers have broadened use of Raman spectroscopy by suggesting it can distinguish normal from cancerous residual skin tissue after high-powered laser removal.

This is the first time that Raman spectroscopy has been successfully used to detect cancerous tissue following laser ablation, according to FAU. This sets the stage to use Raman spectroscopy as a guide for laser surgery, ultimately employing Raman spectroscopy with laser-removal of skin cancers and, maybe, other cancer types.

The researchers found that when they combined laser removal and Raman spectroscopy to get rid of cancerous tissue, they could accurately probe surrounding tissues for any signs of cancer, without harming healthy tissue.

Mohs micrographic surgery is today’s gold-standard approach for skin cancer removal. While it has a high cure rate, it’s time-consuming and the evaluation of the cutout tissue sections during the surgery is subjective.

This new work sets the stage for an automatic laser to vaporize cancer and the Raman spectroscopy to tell clinicians when to stop the vaporization process.

“This is particularly important in areas that we can access with the laser beam such as the lungs or inside the liver that are otherwise very difficult to access with traditional surgery,” Strasswimmer says. “We designed this study with skin cancer, because it is a very straightforward model study and the number of skin cancer patients is increasing at an exponential rate.”


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About Lisette

Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on

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