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Imaging Technique Identifies Early Metastasis in Lymph Nodes

Jul 21, 2015   |   NIH

Highly sensitive ultrasound-guided technique could eliminate need for lymph node biopsies

NIBIB-funded researchers have developed a highly sensitive and accurate imaging technique for non-invasive screening of lymph nodes for metastatic cancer. Current practice calls for invasive surgical biopsies to determine whether deadly metastatic cancer cells have invaded the lymph nodes. The new imaging technique — so far tested in mice — offers a rapid and effective tool to noninvasively identify very small numbers of these cells, known as micrometastases, thus detecting cancer’s spread at its earliest stages, which is critical for timely treatment.

The work, developed at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is reported in the October issue of Cancer Research [Sentinel lymph node biopsy revisited: ultrasound-guided photoacoustic detection of micrometastases using molecularly targeted plasmonic nanosensors. Luke GP, Myers JN, Emelianov SY, Sokolov KV. Cancer Res. 2014 Oct 1;74(19):5397-408. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472]. The technique uses an imaging approach known as ultrasound-guided photoacoustics combined with nanosensors designed to target and identify metastatic cells in lymph nodes.

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