Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, PhD

Surgery is the main treatment option for patients with rectal cancer. During surgery, the surgeon’s main goal is to completely remove cancer tissue without leaving cancer behind. However, not all diseased tissue can be seen with the surgeon’s eye, especially after radiation when tumor and scar look similar. Because of that, it is hard for a surgeon to be certain that all cancer tissue has been removed on the anal side to help preserve the anus and avoid a permanent bag. The same problem happens for adjacent organs such as the pelvic nerves, pelvic sidewall, vagina or prostate that may appear to be affected. Consequently, 4-20% of patients have recurrence while 20-50% have postoperative complications. Currently, there are no technologies that can help surgeons identify cancer tissues within the rectum and nearby organs in vivo during surgery. Surgeons are thus faced with the difficult decision to excise questionable tissue that could be affected by cancer at the devastating expense of compromising critical tissue structures and quality of life. In our study, we will evaluate the MasSpec (MS) Pen technology for tissue identification in rectal cancer surgery. The MSPen provides the transformative capability of detecting molecules diagnostic of cancer in tissues in vivo, without tissue damage. We will refine the MSPen for rectal surgery and evaluate its performance in identifying rectal cancer and normal tissues. The MSPen has the potential to help surgeons achieve complete cancer removal and preserve normal tissues, thus improving treatment, outcomes, and quality-of-life for patients.

Location: Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center - Houston
Proposal: Transforming Cancer Surgery with Medical Mass Spectrometry Technology
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