Device Improves Cancer Detection
A team of US researchers have developed a way of accurately spotting cancer within seconds, allowing surgeons to make sure they remove all and only cancerous tissue.
The MasSpec Pen will give surgeons almost instant results on what to cut out and what to leave. Therefore, the surgeon is able to more accurately remove tumors during a surgery and to leave behind healthy tissue. The MasSpec Pen is a handheld, nondestructive device which can be used for real-time diagnosis of human tissue, in order to help the doctor do an analysis of tissue.
The device was developed at the University of Texas at Austin. The system uses a drop of water to capture the molecules that all tissue gives off, called metabolites. They form a set of biomarkers unique to each type of cancer. That molecular fingerprint is then examined in a mass spectrometer and compared with more than 250 cancerous and healthy tissue types, with a reported accuracy rate of 96%.
Their research thus far has focused on lung, thyroid, ovary and breast tumors. The surgeon simply holds the pen against the area of tissue that needs to be tested, and 10 seconds later, the results are ready. Typically, finding out the results of tissue samples takes between 30 minutes and two weeks and the diagnosis by a pathologist is a highly skilled job that takes a lot of time and is sometimes prone to errors. The pen also improves the chances that the surgeon “got all the cancer out” the first time, reducing the necessity of having to go in for a repeat surgery in order to remove additional cancer cells.
While more research is needed and patents approved, the team is hopeful that this device will greatly improve the detection of cancer during surgeries.