Pen that detects cancer could one day help surgeons better remove tumors

The pen can identify cancerous tissue in 10 seconds


A pen has been developed by Scientists  that can help surgeons identify cancer cells within 10 seconds. The tool could one day be used during surgeries to quickly determine what tissue should be cut in order to remove tumors completely.

The device, called “MasSpec” Pen, isn’t perfect yet. However, it can distinguish between cancerous and healthy tissue with about 96 percent accuracy.

Right now, surgeons can send tissue samples to a lab for analysis, which can take days. Tissue can also be frozen and analyzed during the operation, but that takes 15 to 20 minutes. (The more time-consuming method is more accurate than the so-called “frozen section,” according to the National Cancer Institute.)

Moreover, in search for a quicker but still accurate tool, researchers in Texas developed a handheld “pen”. It gets the job done in 10 seconds. Also, the pen uses a tiny amount of water — 10 microliters — to extract molecules from a person’s tissue.

Furthermore, the water-molecules combo is then sent through tubes to an instrument that can identify the molecular fingerprint of cancer. This instrument then tells the surgeon whether the tissue is healthy or cancerous.

Finally, the researchers tested the device on 253 human tissue samples of breast, lung, thyroid, and ovarian cancer, as well as healthy tissue. The pen was accurate 96 percent of the time, the study says.


About Joslyne Thaggard

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