Melanoma is the fastest growing and fifth most common cancer, posing a substantial health and economic burden. The diagnostic standard in melanoma is a biopsy of the primary tumor followed by a surgical removal and histological assessment of the sentinel lymph nodes (SLN). Detection of SLNs is performed via lymphoscintigraphy, following injection of the radioactive compound Technetium (99mTc).
SLN evaluation is critical in melanoma staging, since the SLN status is the best indicator of overall patient survival. However, the surgical extirpation is highly invasive and complication-prone, while the histological evaluation of SLN is known to have high false negative rates and typically yields a cancer detection rate of only 15-20%.
A recent clinical study showed that MSOT has the potential to improve two critical process steps in melanoma diagnosis:
SLN assessment with MSOT
Based on these promising initial results and following further validation, MSOT could potentially reduce patient burden from radiation and surgery as well as reduce the high false negative rates of SLN biopsy, thereby potentially reducing patient morbidity.
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