CAG Imaging-Guided Cancer Surgery (IGCS)

The Clinical Academic Group – Imaging-Guided Cancer Surgery (CAG-IGCS) strives to increase the life expectancy and quality of life of cancer patients undergoing surgical treatment by improving the methods for complete removal of cancer tissue. To do so, the research collaboration will ensure faster translation and clinical implementation of optical imaging in cancer treatment. Initially, the target group will consist of patients with head and neck cancers treated surgically. Rigshospitalet treats approx. 700 new cases of head and neck cancer each year (approx. 45 per cent of all cases at national level), and surgery is its first choice, where possible.

Successful translation and implementation of optical imaging and 3D navigation may revolutionise surgical cancer treatment and have a significant positive effect on the life expectancy and quality of life of cancer patients. Focussing on the main challenge in cancer surgery, improved methods for complete removal of cancer tissue may lower the postoperative and financial consequences significantly, benefitting both the patients and society.

The IGCS is a platform for developing new technologies. This includes fluorescent tracers capable of recognising receptors upregulated in cancer tissue, new and improved fluorescent molecules and optimisation of optical camera technology.

The fundamental challenge in cancer surgery is distinguishing between cancer tissue and normal tissue, and small microscopic pieces of the tumour are often overlook and left in the area to cause recurrences of the illness. Regardless of the great process within cancer surgery in recent decades, both with regard to technology and surgical techniques, the rate of non-radical resections remains a significant problem. It is a well-known fact that non-radical cancer surgery has a direct and significant negative effect on survival rates. If the surgeon fails to remove the entire tumour, the patient is subjected to chemotherapy or radiation. Such supplementary treatment is a significant burden to the patient, which may subsequently affect their quality of life and functional capacity.

Therefore, there is a great need for new technology allowing for precise intraoperative visualisation of cancer to guide resections with tumour-free margins. Optical imaging represents a promising development within the area, where fluorescent molecules are attached to the molecules that attach to cancer tissue. Using unique camera systems, optic imaging can potentially enable intraoperative visualisation of tumours and metastases and thus help the surgeon remove all cancer in the patient.

Training and Competency Development

Projects under the auspices of the CAG will involve pre- and postgraduate students, just as knowledge will be shared via symposia and teaching of surgeons and clinical personnel.


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