One of the biggest worries for patients undergoing cancer surgery is whether surgeons will miss some of the diseased tissue.
That worry could be over with a new, pencil-sized tool developed by scientists and engineers at the University of Texas at Austin, according to a study published this week.
The tool, dubbed the MasSpec Pen, allows surgeons removing a tumour to detect cancerous cells in tissue in seconds, and lets them know immediately if they have found and removed all of the cancer.
Currently it can take days to determine if the surgeons removed everything. What they miss could lead to a return of the cancer or, at least, another operation to further clean up the affected tissues.
The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, says the pen can identify cancerous tissue during surgery in about 10 seconds.