On the horizon: Optical imaging for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

Head Neck. 2016 Apr;38 Suppl 1:E2204-13. doi: 10.1002/hed.24079. Epub 2015 Jul 20.


Background: Surgical resection with negative margins remains the standard of care for high-risk cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). However, surgical management is often limited by poor intraoperative tumor visualization and inability to detect occult nodal metastasis. The inability to intraoperatively detect microscopic disease can lead to additional surgery, tumor recurrence, and decreased survival.

Methods: A comprehensive literature review was conducted to identify studies incorporating optical imaging technology in the management of cutaneous SCC (January 1, 2000-December 1, 2014).

Results: Several innovative optical imaging techniques, Raman spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, and fluorescence imaging, have been developed for intraoperative surgical guidance. Fifty-seven studies review the ability of these techniques to improve cutaneous SCC localization at the gross and microscopic level.

Conclusion: Significant advances have been achieved with real-time optical imaging strategies for intraoperative cutaneous SCC margin assessment and tumor detection. Optical imaging holds promise in improving the percentage of negative surgical margins and in the early detection of micrometastatic disease. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 38: E2204-E2213, 2016.

Keywords: cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma; intraoperative margin assessment; lymph node mapping; nonmelanoma skin cancer; optical imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Humans
  • Margins of Excision*
  • Neoplasm Micrometastasis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Optical Imaging*