New Device Detects Cancer in Seconds
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have invented a powerful new instrument that can detect cancer cells quickly and accurately during surgery. The handheld device, called the MasSpec Pen, delivers results in about 10 seconds – 150 times faster than existing technology – providing critical information to surgeons about how much tissue to remove, thereby improving cancer treatment and reducing the risk of recurrence.
The current method of determining the boundary between malignant cells and normal tissue is called frozen section analysis, which can take 30 minutes or longer and requires a pathologist to interpret the results. Frozen-section analysis increases the risk of infection and adverse effects of longer periods of anesthesia, and the results may be unreliable.
In trials conducted on tissue removed from 253 people, the MasSpec Pen provided results that were more than 96 percent accurate in about 10 seconds. The tool was also able to detect cancer cells in margins between normal and cancerous tissue that presented mixed cells. Researchers expect to begin testing this technology in cancer surgeries beginning in 2018. Their research was published in Science Translational Medicine.