Brighter Future for Cancer Detection
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.