Cancer Screening Pen That Can Spot Tumors in Seconds

October 13, 2017 in Our News & Bulletins by Brio Home Health and Hospice

As medical technology gets more developed, we see breakthroughs in areas that, in the past, have given doctors some trouble. Cancer is an area of great importance to the medical community. Research has gone into finding both cures and ways to ease treatment. A recent breakthrough invention shows good potential for making cancer surgeries easier. Researchers are testing a pen that can detect tumor cells in ten seconds.

The invention is the MacSpec pen. It’s designed for testing cancer tissue during surgery. In current procedures, tissue samples receive testing in the lab mid-surgery, while the patient is under anesthesia. This pen allows doctors to test tissues in real-time, thus cutting down on the amount of time a surgery can take. It can also cut down on the potential for mistakes.

The pen works in a non-invasive manner. It applies and takes back a water droplet. While this droplet is on the tissue, it absorbs part of the tissue, thus allowing for quick scanning. They used the device on 253 different patients and found that it is accurate 96% of the time.

Developers are working on fine-tuning the device to increase the accuracy. They hope to move to surgical trials within the next year.


Jialing Zhang, John Rector, et. al., “Nondestructive Tissue Analysis for Ex Vivo and in Vivo Cancer Diagnosis Using a Handheld Mass Spectrometry System”, Science Translational Medicine,

Vol. 9, Issue 406, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan3968

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