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Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Brighter Future for Cancer Detection

A fast, accurate, and minimally invasive new screening system for cervical cancer
April 1, 2014
Brighter Future for Cancer Detection

A new fiber-optic probe for clinical cervical cancer screening is only 3 millimeters in diameter.

Fiber-optic probe for cervical cancer could mean better health, lower cost, and less stress

Cervical cancer is normally diagnosed when an abnormal Pap smear warrants a colposcopy (illuminated magnification) and subsequent biopsy (tissue sampling). If the small sample from the biopsy proves cancerous, doctors go back for more tissue. But in addition to being long, cumbersome, and invasive, this chain of procedures can lead to pain, infections, and other complications. As a result of these drawbacks, some patients aren’t diagnosed until its too late. Now, a Los Alamos scientist has devised an alternative diagnostic tool: a thin fiber-optic probe, simple and safe enough to use in regular patient exams, that delivers light and observes how that light is scattered. Because cancerous tissue scatters light differently than healthy tissue, the probe can reliably improve diagnoses.

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