The new tiny microscope could speed up breast cancer treatment and reduce NHS waiting times

A tiny microscope that can be used through small incisions inside the body during surgery could speed up breast cancer treatment and reduce NHS waiting lists, scientists say.


Imperial College London researchers have designed an endo-microscope that measures less than 1mm and is as thick as 25 human hairs. The invention is capable of viewing tissues and organs in the body.

A team of scientists said the device is capable of creating images within tissues with unprecedented speed. They say that it produces an image every of seconds.

A new endomicroscope, developed by Dr. Khushi Vyas and colleagues at Acropolis, will allow surgeons to quickly identify cancerous cells that are a hundredth of a millimeter in size. This is much faster than conventional methods.

The team is hopeful that this will reduce the need for follow-up operations from removing cancer cells that previously escaped detection.

This device will also help with breast-conserving surgery, which the doctor does by removing the cancerous tissue while preserving as much of the normal breast tissue as possible.

When a surgeon has to remove part of the root, it is always because the patient suffers from some type of pathology.

The development of the endomicroscope is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.

‘Available in five years’

Dr Kedar Pandya, EPSRC’s Director of Cross-Council Programmes, said: “By reducing the time it takes to identify cancer cells and improving imaging accuracy, the technology developed by Dr Vyas and his team The endoscope can benefit patients and the NHS by reducing waiting lists.

The aim is to advance clinical trials so that it becomes available in about five years, he added.

The researchers have used their system for preliminary studies on human cancer tissue and are now testing its use on laboratory samples of cancer tissue by surgeons and pathologists.

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