When removing a cancerous tumor from a patient’s body, it makes sense that doctors would want to ensure that they’ve taken everything out, right? After all it doesn’t make sense to leave some behind, or subject the patient to more surgery if it can be helped. However thanks to the work of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, that could be a problem of the past.

In a report from the Science Translational Medicine, it seems that the researchers have created a “pen” called the MasSpec Pen. This is a small pen-like device that can, in real-time, determine whether or not a tissue is cancerous in as little as 10 seconds. This means that surgeons can test tissues on the spot in the operating theater to decide whether or not more tissue needs to be removed, as opposed to sewing the patient up and then having to reopen them again later.

The pen works by delivering a drop of water onto the surface of the tissue in question, and the drop of water can actually pull in molecules from the tissue and is then analyzed by a mass spectrometer (hence the name of the pen). It will be able to report whether the tissue is cancerous or not.

So far the researchers have tested the pen on 253 human tissue samples and have come back with an impressive accuracy rating of over 96%. The team is now working on pens that can analyze smaller sections of tissue.

Filed in Medical. Read more about Health, Science and _cold.

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