Novel molecular imaging techniques have the potential to significantly enhance the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for cancer treatment. For solid tumors in particular, novel molecular enhancers for imaging modalities such as US, CT, MRI and PET may facilitate earlier and more accurate diagnosis and staging which are prerequisites for successful surgical therapy. Enzymatically activatable "smart" molecular MRI probes seem particularly promising because of their potential to image tumors before and after surgical removal without re-administration of the probe to evaluate completeness of surgical resection. Furthermore, the use of "smart" MR probes as part of screening programs may enable detection of small tumors throughout the body in at-risk patient populations. Dual labeling of molecular MR probes with fluorescent dyes can add real time intraoperative guidance facilitating complete tumor resection and preservation of important structures. A truly theranostic approach with the further addition of therapeutic agents to the molecular probe for adjuvant therapy is conceivable for the future.
Keywords: Cancer diagnosis; Fluorescence guided surgery; Molecular imaging.
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