Saturday, November 25, 2006


Sounds like a good thing in the field of research for cancer. Article taken from

Pre-cancer tissue more easily detected with new technology
By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 24 November 2006 1513 hrs

SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore has pioneered a new tool for cancer detection.

Using near-infrared fluorescence imaging, doctors may soon spot cancer risks before any physical signs appear.

Most hospitals currently screen for cancer using white light endoscopies, followed by a biopsy. With this invasive method, early cancer cannot always be accurately detected because white light cannot penetrate beneath the surface.

The NUS has come up with a new screening technique - shining near-infrared rays on problem areas, causing cancer cells to emit fluorescence.

By taking its reading, doctors can then determine if abnormal tissue is present.

Currently, most fluorescence endoscopy systems use ultraviolet rays which can be harmful to the body and which does not penetrate the deep tissue regions unlike near-infrared rays.

"Since we use the near-infrared red light, there's much better penetration into the tissue. Near-infrared red is a biologically transparent light so it is quite safe for human cells and tissues. However, near-infrared rays also produce a weak signal and it may take hours to get a reading - something which the NUS team had overcome with a hardware they had designed and are fine tuning," said Assistant Professor Huang Zhiwei, Division of Bioengineering, National University of Singapore.

The cancer detection process is non-invasive and, due to the size of the probe, can only effectively detect head, neck, skin and cervical cancer instantaneously.

The research team is designing a smaller, more flexible endoscopic probe so it can enter the body to detect other kinds of cancers such as lung and stomach cancers.

A clinical trial using the technique is currently being conducted at the National University Hospital. 58 patients have been screened and pre-cancer tissue was found in 12 of them. Diagnosis at a pre-cancer stage ensures survival rates of up to 100 percent, but if diagnosis was done at an advanced stage, then the survival rate plunges to less than 20 percent.

With such simplified cancer detection technique, it is hoped more will come forward for screening once this product is commercialised.

Some cancers, when detected at early stages, do not require chemotherapy or radiotherapy for treatment. - CNA /dt


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