A handheld microscope is in development stages at Vanderbilt University, meant to help doctors get a better idea when a biopsy is necessary. As of right now, biopsies are always necessary to determine whether or not a blemish on the skin is cancerous. If successful, this handheld microscope will streamline the process in diagnosing cancers – a practice all too backed-up by sheer volume of diagnoses.
The microscope works by using a laser light to illuminate the patient’s skin instead of regular white light. This helps form an image of the skin’s cellular structure and based on how the individual cells reflect the laser light, can determine the cell’s chemical composition. This is called spectroscopy and is the backbone of the microscope’s technology, as the compositions found on the patient can be compared to known strings of cancer.
The final product is still in research & development stages, but if the technology proves beneficial, this microscope may be found in offices worldwide and could greatly improve cancer detection, prevention, and treatment.