Most solid cancers are treated by surgical resections to reduce the burden of disease. Surgeons often face the challenge of detecting small areas of residual neoplasm after resection or finding small primary tumors for the initial resection. Intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) is an emerging technology with the potential to dramatically improve cancer surgery operations by allowing surgeons to better visualize areas of neoplasm using fluorescence imaging. Over the last two years, two molecular optical contrast agents received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, and several more drugs are now on the horizon. Thus a conference was organized at the University of Pennsylvania to bring together oncologic surgeons from different specialties to discuss the current clinical status of IMI trials with a specific focus on phase 2 and phase 3 studies. In addition, phase 1 and experimental trials were also discussed briefly, to highlight other novel techniques. Our review summarizes the discussions from the conference and delves into the types of cancers discussed, different contrast agents in human trials, and the clinical value being studied.
Keywords: fluorescence-guided surgery; intraoperative visualization; molecular imaging; tumor surgery.