Scientists at the University of Texas have presented a device, a pen, that could make surgery to remove a tumour quicker, safer and more precise.
The electronical pen has been tested on 253 samples, results suggest a 96 per cent accuracy rate.
The pen releases a droplet of water when it comes into contact with a suspected cancer. The chemicals living within the cells then travel into the droplet and are sucked back into the device for analysis.
The pen is plugged into a mass spectrometer and produces a chemical fingerprint that tells doctors whether they are looking at healthy tissue or cancer.
The pen should allow the doctors to ensure that any last trace of cancer is removed during surgery, as removing too little can result in a re-growth of cancer cells.
The MasSpec Pen is the latest attempt to improve the accuracy of surgery.
Other developments in this area are persued also by a team at Imperial College London that have developed a knife that “smells” the tissue it cuts to determine whether it is removing cancer and by a team at Harvard that are using lasers to analyse how much of a brain cancer to remove.
Read further: BBC