King's College researchers develop non-invasive imaging device for diagnosing tumours
The Biophotonics Research Group at King’s College London’s Dental Institute has developed a new clinical imaging instrument that will aid in early diagnosis of tumours. The research group, made up of clinical doctors and laboratory scientists, are working to address the issues around oral cancer detection.
Diagnosis of oral cancer is difficult, as many other safer conditions can resemble the early stages of the disease, with several having the ability to transform into cancers at random points. The current standard for characterising abnormal tissue from the mouth is a biopsy, an invasive and painful procedure where suspected cancerous tissue is removed and tested. The process is often a deterrent for getting a lesion checked by an oral health practitioner.
The research group at King’s College has developed a cost-effective and non-invasive approach which has already identified the location of invasive cancers as small as 1mm in diameter, enabling curative, minimally invasive surgery with few residual scars and deformities.
The prototype, named the Microvascular scope, is a simple, portable and functional device that could change the way clinicians view oral cancer detection by allowing the host’s first response to the tumour – new blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) – to be imaged undisturbed and as it occurs, at extremely high resolution.
‘A device that can help survey suspicious lesions and guide biopsies to more accurately confirm the existence of cancer and its exact location would prove invaluable,’ explains Dr Richard Cook from the King’s College London’s Dental Institute. ‘Biopsy is an elaborate and time-consuming process and is unpleasant, deterring patients from further treatment. There is often the need for biopsies in multiple locations to ensure all areas of a potentially cancer bearing lesions are correctly assessed. This is often repeated over time to rule out misdiagnosis.’