Researchers say that the MasSpec Pen could accurately detect cancerous tissue in just 10 seconds.
Image credit: University of Texas at Austin
In a new study, scientists reveal how the device, which is called the MasSpec Pen, was highly accurate in detecting cancer in human tissue samples, and it did so in just 10 seconds.
Study leader Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, of the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues say that the tool could vastly improve the accuracy of cancer surgery and help to reduce recurrence of the disease.
The researchers recently reported their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Last year, more than 1.6 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in the United States, and more than 595,000 people died from the disease, making it one of the leading causes of death in the country.
Surgery remains one of the primary diagnostic and treatment strategies for cancer. It aims to detect and remove cancerous tissue and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body.
However, distinguishing between healthy and cancerous tissue can prove tricky for surgeons, making it difficult for them to remove all cancer remnants.
Frozen section analysis – also referred to as cryosection – is one technique that aims to help with this problem. This involves taking a tissue sample from a cancer patient during surgery and transferring it to a laboratory for freezing, where it is then assessed by a pathologist.
But Eberlin and colleagues say that this method can be slow, which may increase a patient’s risk of surgery-related complications. Furthermore, they note that frozen section analysis can be unreliable for some cancer types.