Brain metastases. Does fluorescent marking facilitate the surgical removal of tumors?
Physicians from Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences (KL Krems, Austria) present results of the world's most extensive study headed by the MedUni Vienna investigating the value of 5-aminolevulinic acid in surgery of brain metastases
By: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences
Brain metastases are the most common type of tumor that affects the brain, occurring in 20-40 percent of all systemic cancers. They are often removed surgically, which is an important treatment option aside from radiotherapy, gamma knife radiosurgery or chemotherapy. In most cases, they can be effectively removed, as metastases can often be clearly distinguished from the surrounding tissue. However, recent research found that residual tumors remain after around 20 percent of surgical resections. Performing an operation after administering 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) could enable surgeons to pinpoint these hard-to-visualize parts of tumors during surgery. Particularly in tumor cells, 5-ALA creates easily recognizable fluorescence, which in turn simplifies identification of residual tumors. This already is an established method of treating primary brain tumors, but so far there has been no systematic investigation of its use in connection with brain metastases. This was what the team from KL Krems and MedUni Vienna set out to achieve in the largest study of its kind to be performed anywhere in the world – and their findings were sobering.
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