Tumor-positive resection margins are a major problem in oral cancer surgery. High-wavenumber Raman spectroscopy is a reliable technique to determine the water content of tissues, which may contribute to differentiate between tumor and healthy tissue. The aim of this study was to examine the use of Raman spectroscopy to differentiate tumor from surrounding healthy tissue in oral squamous cell carcinoma. From 14 patients undergoing tongue resection for squamous cell carcinoma, the water content was determined at 170 locations on freshly excised tongue specimens using the Raman bands of the OH-stretching vibrations (3350-3550 cm-1) and of the CH-stretching vibrations (2910-2965 cm-1). The results were correlated with histopathological assessment of hematoxylin and eosin stained thin tissue sections obtained from the Raman measurement locations. The water content values from squamous cell carcinoma measurements were significantly higher than from surrounding healthy tissue (p-value < 0.0001). Tumor tissue could be detected with a sensitivity of 99% and a specificity of 92% using a cutoff water content value of 69%. Because the Raman measurements are fast and can be carried out on freshly excised tissue without any tissue preparation, this finding signifies an important step toward the development of an intraoperative tool for tumor resection guidance with the aim of enabling oncological radical surgery and improvement of patient outcome.

doi.org/10.1021/ac504362y, hdl.handle.net/1765/88372
Analytical Chemistry
Department of Pathology

Barroso, E., Smits, R., Bakker Schut, T., Ten Hove, I., Hardillo, J., Wolvius, E., … Puppels, G. (2015). Discrimination between Oral Cancer and Healthy Tissue Based on Water Content Determined by Raman Spectroscopy. Analytical Chemistry, 87(4), 2419–2426. doi:10.1021/ac504362y