Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have invented a powerful new instrument that can detect cancer cells quickly and accurately during surgery. The handheld device, called the MasSpec Pen, delivers results in about 10 seconds – 150 times faster than existing technology – providing critical information to surgeons about how much tissue to remove, thereby improving cancer treatment and reducing the risk of recurrence.
The current method of determining the boundary between malignant cells and normal tissue is called frozen section analysis, which can take 30 minutes or longer and requires a pathologist to interpret the results. Frozen-section analysis increases the risk of infection and adverse effects of longer periods of anesthesia, and the results may be unreliable.
In trials conducted on tissue removed from 253 people, the MasSpec Pen provided results that were more than 96 percent accurate in about 10 seconds. The tool was also able to detect cancer cells in margins between normal and cancerous tissue that presented mixed cells. Researchers expect to begin testing this technology in cancer surgeries beginning in 2018. Their research was published in Science Translational Medicine.
After more than four decades of improving stroke outcomes and decreasing stroke-related death rates, progress has stalled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also reports that rates of stroke-related deaths are rising in Hispanics and in people living in the South.
Deaths due to stroke continued to decrease in 13 U.S. states, but the decline in stroke-related death rates slowed or reversed in 37 states and the District of Columbia between 2000-2015. Some of the affected states are outside of the “stroke belt” (Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, and Virginia), where rates of stroke and cardiovascular disease are higher than the national average.
The CDC report does not address the reasons for the decline in stroke prevention, but research points to an increase in known stroke risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. While African Americans continue to have the highest risk of stroke-related death among all races and ethnicities, stroke death rates in Hispanics increased by 6 percent each year from 2013 to 2015. This new report underscores the importance of public health efforts to reduce stroke death rates.