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Glowing dye helps doctors find more prostate cancer cells during surgery, says University of Oxford | Science & Tech News

A glowing dye that sticks to cancer cells gives surgeons a “second pair of eyes”, according to experts at the University of Oxford.

The dye clings to prostate cancer cells and then starts glowing when illuminated during surgery.

This means doctors can remove more of the cancer during the operation and reduces the chance of it coming back.

Although the dye currently identifies prostate cancer, it could be adapted for other forms of the disease.

“With this technique, we can strip all the cancer away, including the cells that have spread from the tumour – which could give it the chance to come back later,” said surgery professor Freddie Hamdy from the University of Oxford. He was the lead author of the study into the dye.

“It also allows us to preserve as much of the healthy structures around the prostate as we can, to reduce unnecessary life-changing side-effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction.”

Full clinical trials are under way to find out if surgery with the marker dye removes more prostate cancer and preserves more healthy tissue than existing surgical techniques, according to Cancer Research UK.

In an initial study, 23 men with prostate cancer were injected with the dye before undergoing surgery to remove their prostates.

The fluorescent dye showed the cancer cells and where they had spread into other tissues, such as the pelvis and lymph nodes.

A special imaging system shone a light on the prostate and nearby regions, making the cancer cells glow.

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David Butler, 77, was one of those who took part in the study after tests showed his prostate cancer had begun to spread.

“I retired early to make the most of life’s pleasures, gardening, playing bowls and walking,” he said.

“Taking part in the Promote study has allowed me to have many more of those pleasures for years to come.”

He is now cancer-free.

The research was funded by Cancer Research UK and supported by Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, Department of Oncology and the National Institute for Health and Care Research biomedical research centre.

The work has been published in the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

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