Oral and Head and Neck cancers (OSCC) are debilitating diseases where patient prognosis depends heavily on early detection. The use of tobacco products (including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff) is the leading cause of oral cancers. Despite focused research in conventional therapies, the five-year survival rate for patients with advanced oral cancer remains approximately 15-20 percent. Therefore, early detection or prevention of this disease is likely to be most effective. The absence of definite early warning signs or validated biomarkers for oral cancers suggests that an easy to use screening instrument would be critical for evaluating at risk patients.
This project focuses on the development of a novel handheld imaging device that can assess the status of suspect tumor tissue in real time for patients seen in clinic. This device relies on the unique fluorescence properties of tissue to generate clinically relevant data. We have shown in a large-scale study the ability of this technique to delineate between tumor tissue and surrounding normal tissue.
Initially we will acquire images of lesions and then collect tissue biopsies driven by standard protocols in 40 patients. Biopsy results will be correlated with image features identified in our optical imaging data sets and an extensive database of optical tissue parameters will be created. Image features will be utilized to a sophisticated tissue classification system. Once good agreement is achieved between biopsy results and image classifiers we will perform a preliminary clinical trial, enabled by real time processing.
The benefits of this project are twofold: (1) Screening tests based on biopsy collection are prone to sampling error; a quantitative, image based method that identifies suspect lesions by utilizing unique tissue optical properties will reduce the number of false negatives and ensure that early detection is, in fact, early. (2) Quantitative methods will aid in the standardization of clinical examination, thus reducing the dependence of test results on the skill and experience level of the clinician