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Oral cancer: a non-invasive biopsy,trials under way

Doing away with invasive biopsies,city surgeons have developed a novel technique that uses ‘electrical microwaves’ for detecting oral cancer.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
March 6, 2009 12:52:28 am

The new technique uses microwaves and can help negate the side effects of cobalt60 radiation therapy

Doing away with invasive biopsies,city surgeons have developed a novel technique that uses ‘electrical microwaves’ for detecting oral cancer. Researchers are now conducting a clinical trial among 100 patients at the BJ Medical College to explore whether the technique can also be used as a curative therapy.

Nearly 29 per cent of the population suffers from oral cancer and its diagnosis normally requires an invasive method of taking out the tissue in the affected organ for various tests.

There are two distinct pathways by which most people get oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol,and the other is through exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus),the same one which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women.

Tobacco use is implicated in more than 75 per cent of oral cancers,says Dr Akshay Ranade,oral and maxillofacial oncologist at Sahyadri Hospital. Besides a visual examination of tissues in the mouth,the doctor can recommend a biopsy if cancer is suspected and that is done by taking a small portion of the tissue for examination.

“Here is where our technique is an important finding as for the first time a non-invasive method to detect oral cancer using electrical microwaves can be used,” Ranade told Newsline. He also said microwaves have a selective heating potential and they are the most safe radiation waves.

Ranade said a probe is kept on the tissue to detect the electrical properties of a cancerous cell. Microwave imaging of tumors could be an asset for delineating malignant tissue from normal tissue and also reduce unnecessary resection of normal tissue.

The technique,using microwave hyperthermia treatment,can help negate the side effects of cobalt60 radiation therapy. CMI technologies,USA,had built the probe and the technique was developed under the Department of Science and Technology techno entrepreneur programme.

Ranade is now involved in a clinical trial to determine whether the technique can be used to treat oral cancer. Dr Suresh Mehrotra,biophysicist at the Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University,and Dr Mukund Joshi,gastroenterologist at B J Medical College,are also involved in the trial.

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