SPECT/CT, fluorescence imaging combo could guide cancer surgery

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In a new study, published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, researchers found that combining SPECT/CT and fluorescence imaging for patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) that metastasized beyond the primary tumor could help surgeons differentiate tumor tissue from normal tissue.

Researchers from the Netherlands used a mouse model to show that pulmonary micrometastases of CRC can be identified with labetuzamab, labeled with both a near-infrared fluorescent dye and a radioactive label.

“This strategy can also be used for other types of cancer, when a different tumor-targeting antibody is used. It is, therefore, relevant for a broad range of cancer types. Since our findings may be translated to a broad range of tumor types, dual-modality imaging may revolutionize oncological surgery and improve the prognosis of cancer patients," said Marlène C.H. Hekman of the department of radiology and nuclear medicine at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands, in a  statement.

Beginning in the first week of tumor growth, sub-millimeter pulmonary tumor colonies were visualized with both micro-SPECT and fluorescence imaging. Researchers also found that dual-modality imaging can be used to guide resection of tumor lesions.

"Complete tumor resection is crucial for optimal prognosis of cancer patients," said Hekman. "Intraoperative imaging can help the surgeon to resect residual disease completely. To be of optimal benefit in the operating room, dual-modality imaging should be able to detect very small tumor lesions that might otherwise be missed."