New Light-Based Method May Help Distinguish Benign Ovarian Lesions from Cancer, Study Shows

New Light-Based Method May Help Distinguish Benign Ovarian Lesions from Cancer, Study Shows

A new method based on the way near-infrared light reflects off a sample of fluid collected from ovarian cysts may help determine the difference between benign endometriosis and cancer, a study has found.

The novel approach, developed by researchers at Nara Medical University in Japan in collaboration with Cellspect, was described in the study, “Discrimination of malignant transformation from benign endometriosis using a near-infrared approach,”published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine.

Endometriosis is commonly a benign disease, but there is evidence that it is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Recognizing differences between endometriosis‑associated ovarian cancer (EAOC) and benign ovarian endometrioma (OE) is essential for proper care and treatment.

When light crosses any liquid, it is scattered and absorbed differently according to the composition of the liquid. The team wanted to find out if a non-invasive, light-based detection method could help differentiate cancer from benign lesions.

They exposed ovarian cystic fluid samples to halogen light, and then recorded the light that was reflected in the near-infrared spectrum with a camera. They analyzed samples from 34 patients with OE and 12 with EAOC.

They found that EAOC samples had a light reflection change significantly lower than those in the OE group. This change followed the same trend as hemoglobin levels detected in the cyst fluid samples, suggesting that light reflection value might be a representation of these levels.

Findings also correlated with a previous study in which researchers observed that iron levels are significantly higher in the ovarian cyst fluid of patients with OE than in those with EAOC. Although they could not confirm the exact reasons for this, they showed that iron levels could be used to distinguish between the two diseases.

The light-based method was able to determine EAOC from benign OE with a sensitivity of 83.3% and a specificity of 94.1%.

The researchers believe that “transvaginal ultrasound‑guided luminance measurements using near‑infrared approaches may advance medical imaging technology as a tool for discriminating malignant transformation in endometriosis.”

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