Updated on 20 July 2012
At present, the healing percentage of the most aggressive brain tumor, GBM, is basically zero percent. Treatments are palliative: they aim at stretching a patient's life and controlling and reducing symptoms as much as possible.
Colon cancer: The exceptional work of Dr Jeroen Meijerink and his doctoral student Martijn van der Pas at the Department of Surgery in VU University, Amsterdam is testament to the importance of innovation in R&D. Their breakthrough could help some 12,000 people, who are diagnosed with colon cancer each year in the Netherlands.
The spread of colon cancer cells from the primary site to distant locations in the body has been difficult to treat. Locating the source of the malignant cells is made more complicated as the sentinel lymph node, the first lymph node to which cancer cells are likely to spread to, is embedded in a layer of fatty tissue. This is especially the case in overweight people, who have more fat surrounding their organs.
Dr Meijerink developed an innovative treatment solution for colon cancer. With the help of a fluorescent dye solution and minimally-invasive infrared ray laparoscopy surgery with a special camera, the sentinel lymph node can be almost effortlessly located. An ICG solution, salt and albumin protein is injected into the patient at the site of the primary tumor. The solution then travels to the sentinel lymph node. The camera and surgical instruments enter the gland. The camera has a special filter that detects the fluorescence in the lymph node, which is removed to test for further cancerous cells.
With Dr Meijerink's work, doctors hope that the fluorescence will be used in diagnosing and treating other forms of cancer such as cervical and stomach cancer in the near future.