Scientists from the University of Texas invented a pencil-shaped device that claims to detect carcinogenic tissue in just 10 seconds.
Thanks to this device, the tumor could be removed faster, safer, and more precise.
The accuracy and efficiency of this device called MasSpec Pen is estimated at 96 percent. It works by touching tissue suspected of being carcinogenic and dropping a few drops of water.
When the MasSpec Pen completes the analysis, the words “Normal” or “Cancer” automatically appear on a computer screen. For certain cancers, such as lung cancer, the name of a subtype might also appear.
Chemicals from living cells suck the sample into a drop, and then into a pencil to analyze it. The device then gives an imprint on which doctors can say whether it’s healthy tissue or cancer.
Surgery is a challenge to find the border between cancer and normal tissue. For some tumors, this is obvious, but some borders are not clearly seen.
The pencil should help doctors completely remove the tumor. This is important because if the parts of the tumor remain, then it develops again, and if a part of healthy tissue is removed, it can leave lasting consequences and problems on the body like the brain.
So far, the pencil has been tested on 253 samples, and the testing will continue until the next year when it will start to use it in operating rooms.
For now, the pencil can take a tissue sample of 1.5 millimeters, but researchers are already making new ones that will be able to take smaller and larger samples.