MicroscopeThe early detection and treatment of cancer improves a person’s chance for a full recovery. Regular physical exams or routine tests and certain self-exams can improve these chances, even if there are no visible symptoms.

Microscopes play a crucial role in these important medical exams and tests as they offer a clear image of specimens or tissues of organs, bone marrow, and skin and blood samples with abnormal cells that could indicate the presence of cancer.

One of the latest developments in the detection of cancer is an inexpensive, endoscopic microscope capable of producing high-resolution, sub-cellular images of tissue in real time. Designed by an engineering researcher at the University of Arkansas, the instrument is portable, re-usable and easily packaged with conventional endoscopes, and will help clinicians detect and diagnose early-stage disease, primarily cancer.

An endoscopic microscope is a tool or technique that obtains histological images from inside the human body in real-time. Some clinicians consider it an optical biopsy. Built from a single fiber optic bundle, this microscope includes thousands of flexible, small-caliber fibers. The system requires a topical contrast agent to facilitate fluorescent imaging. It can produce images at sub-cellular resolution, which allows clinicians to see the early stages of cell deformations that could lead to pre-cancerous conditions. The probe can be sterilized and re-used.

According to the report in Science Daily, the new intraoperative monitoring device can provide a “preview of biopsy” by capturing high-resolution images of tumor margins in real time. This will allow clinicians to target the ideal locations on lesions before and during surgical biopsies, the latter helping surgeons to see if the operation to remove the tumor was successful. This technology is expected to be useful in monitoring treatments for breast cancer, inflammation and other conditions.

Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment. Early diagnosis is particularly relevant for cancers of the breast, cervix, mouth, larynx, colon and rectum, and skin. Biopsy and cytology specimens undergo microscopic examination to detect the condition.