One of the most common types of oral cancer is oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), for which the five-year survival rate has stubbornly remained at 50% for many years, partly due to late-stage diagnosis. Better identifying both OSCC and the non-malignant lesions that can precede it would help to reduce the disease’s impact, and optical techniques may offer a way to achieve this goal.
A group of researchers has created a Raman spectroscopy platform that can distinguish between malignant and non-malignant lesions in healthy oral tissue, potentially providing a clinically useful way to detect developing oral cancer.
Raman spectroscopy is label-free and non-invasive and can also be used in low-light environments. As a result, it is promising as a screening tool in the dentist’s office. Raman spectra’s ability to reveal the molecular composition of tissues has already been used to identify relevant biomarkers in the prostate, cervical, and other cancers and improve our understanding of chemotherapy. However, the technique has yet to be widely used for detecting OSCC.
According to the project team, the team has now evaluated a technique based on shifted-excitation Raman difference spectroscopy (SERDS), a background correction methodology for Raman spectroscopy developed in 1992 but applied to studies of the oral cavity for the first time.
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