Helping Patients with Oral Cancer Avoid Cancer Recurrence 

Surgery is a common treatment for oral cancer, and usually includes a margin of tissue around the tumor being taken out to ensure that surgery removes all the cancer cells. Pathology will examine pieces of that margin during surgery to tell the surgeon if they need to take out more tissue, but it’s impossible for all of the tissue to be analyzed quickly enough to be 100 percent accurate. 

This means that in some cases, cancer cells will still be hiding and the patient might need a second surgery or radiation, both of which further increase the risk of problems with swallowing and speech.

To maximize the likelihood of getting the full tumor out, providers and researchers in BMC’s Department of Otolaryngology have partnered with BU Bioengineering to build a tool that will help identify potential cancer cells in a tissue sample and guide Pathology on where to examine further. This will then help ensure that all the cancer can be removed in one surgery. To study this procedure, the team has received a $3.5 million grant for a five-year study. Congratulations!