Improving the screening and early detection of oral cancer

early detection oral cancer
Photo; Wang Tom – 123rf

The insidious nature of oral cancer means it is often detected at a later stage. A further challenge is the limited tools to detect and monitor potential oral cancers and skin lesions over time, forcing clinicians to remove suspicious lesions by scalpel biopsy and assess pathology.

Now a new research project aims to identify individuals who are likely to develop oral cancer, without invasive biopsies.

The project is led by a team at the Melbourne University Dental School and uses OptiScan’s state-of-the-art confocal laser endomicroscope (CLE). Known as InVivage ™, the hand-held microscope uses a laser light and confocal optics to painlessly perform ‘digital biopsies’.

With the microscope, tissue can be viewed in 3D with 1000-times magnification. This could allow clinicians and surgeons to diagnose cancerous tissue in real time, reducing or eliminating the need to have one or more biopsies taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Alongside trialling the CLE, the project also aims to develop software to comprehensively record an annotated map of the patient’s mouth. This will make it possible to compare a patient’s ‘mouth map’ with subsequent versions, to assess any changes. 

The group’s broader Mouthmap™ project will enable a detailed collection of a large amount of data to compare this new CLE technology with diagnosis using standard light microscopy.

This story was sourced from the Melbourne Dental School news website.

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