New handheld pen allows surgeons to detect cancer in 10 seconds!

on . Posted in Articles of Interest

Removes all trace of disease.

DALLAS, Texas (PNN) - September 8, 2017 - A revolutionary new handheld "pen" allows surgeons to test for cancer in seconds.

The device gives medics a better chance of removing “every last trace” of the disease.

Researchers at the University of Texas say the device is capable of identifying cancerous cells more than 150 times faster than existing technology.

The MasSpec Pen can give surgeons precise information about which tissue to cut or preserve, helping to improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer reoccurring.

Tests conducted by the team found the tool took just 10 seconds to provide a diagnosis for cancer and was more than 96% accurate.

Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, an assistant professor of chemistry who designed the study, said, “If you talk to cancer patients after surgery, one of the first things many will say is, 'I hope the surgeon got all the cancer out.' It's just heartbreaking when that's not the case. But our technology could vastly improve the odds that surgeons really do remove every last trace of cancer during surgery.”

The current method for establishing where cancerous tissue ends and normal tissue begins, called frozen section analysis, can be slow and unreliable.

It can take up to half an hour for tissue to be analyzed by a pathologist, during which time the patient on the operating table is at risk of infection.

Not removing enough of the cancerous tissue can mean tumors will regrow.

But removing too much healthy tissue to prevent further cancer growth could have severe effects on the patient including nerve damage in breast cancer patients and loss of speech in thyroid cancer patients.

James Suliburk, head of endocrine surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, said, “Any time we can offer the patient a more precise surgery, a quicker surgery or a safer surgery, that's something we want to do. This technology does all three. It allows us to be much more precise in what tissue we remove and what we leave behind."

The pen works by releasing a tiny droplet of water onto the tissue, which soaks up biological material, such as fast proteins and sugars.

It is then sucked back up and analyzed by an instrument called a mass spectrometer, which can detect thousands of molecules, before doctors are given the results on a computer screen.

The team hopes to start testing the new device during cancer surgeries next year.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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