Crystal clear view of cancer

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A new optical scanner could improve cancer treatment by providing the highest resolution images yet of tumours, giving doctors a much clearer view of where to perform surgery.

Surgically removing tumours requires painstaking care. The doctors must cut a safe margin around the tumour to ensure that none of the tumour is left behind, but removing too much may have deleterious effects on the patient’s health.

Historically, samples of the tissue in this margin would have been sent to the laboratory for analysis, a time consuming process that could halt surgery and impede the patient’s prospects of recovery

The new scanner, based on optical coherence tomography, will speed up this process by allowing the surgeons to decide for themselves where to make the final cut, with much higher resolution than both MRI and ultrasound scans.

The scanner was developed by Michelson Diagnostics, and was previewed at Laser 2007. It is currently being tested in two UK hospitals.

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