OCT imaging holds promise for early in vivo tumor diagnosis

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Optical imaging company Michelson Diagnostics (MDL) has released positive initial results from clinical testing on oral cancer tissue using optical coherence technology (OCT) developed by its partner, University College Hospital, London (UCH).

The tests, performed by UCH scientists on cancerous and suspected cancerous human oral issue, were designed to establish the potential for OCT to aid in head and neck cancer diagnosis and treatment. The tests involved comparing images of the tissue samples taken by the scanner, with histopathology images analyzed by trained pathologists, according to MDL.

In the tests, 25 oral tissue samples were collected from 14 patients of the UCH National Medical Laser Centre. The samples were scanned with the OCT imaging system and then prepared for analysis. According to the researchers, the results showed that it is possible to identify surface structures such as keratin and epithelial layers, the epidermal/dermal junction, and areas of cellular crowding as well as any pathological changes that occurs at that level.

"We are very excited about the breakthrough in image quality that this system offers," said Colin Hopper, senior maxillofacial surgeon at UCH. He added "OCT could revolutionize the surveillance of pre-cancers in the mouth and eliminate the waiting time for biopsy results. It should also minimize surgery through improved disease mapping. This will provide cost effective treatments with improved cure rates.”