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Cancer Diagnosis by Laser

It may be possible to diagnose cancer using laser light in the future within just five minutes. A team of researchers at Illinois may have made biopsies redundant by developing the tissue imaging technique which can identify cancer cells.

By using nonlinear interferometric vibrational imaging or NIVI the scientists are able to find cancer cells in less than five minutes with 99 % accuracy. The research was led by the physician and professor Stephen A Boppart.

Present methods of diagnosing cancer are very subjective and take a long time. However with the NIVI method the medical diagnosis of cancer would be more quantitative and far faster than the traditional biopsy.

The imaging technique works by identifying proteins that accumulate in higher levels in cancerous cells. The light beams can then be used to identify the abnormal concentration of proteins in the cells and identify the cancer cells with ease.

The term “laser” stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Ordinary light, such as that from a light bulb, has many wavelengths and spreads in all directions. Laser light, on the other hand, has a specific wavelength. It is focused in a narrow beam and creates a very high-intensity light.

Because lasers can focus very accurately on tiny areas, they can also be used for very precise surgical work or for cutting through tissue (in place of a scalpel).

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