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A swab to screen for cancer

Technique uses cheek cells to detect signs of lung cancer before symptoms appear

A potential cancer screening method combines cheek swabs with a sensitive microscopy technique.

A potential cancer screening method combines cheek swabs with a sensitive microscopy technique.
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September 4, 2018

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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., in part because symptoms don't appear until the disease has spread. Evidence suggests that cancer in one part of the body can cause non-cancerous changes in distant organs that, though microscopic, are detectable. With support from NSF, researchers honed a technology--partial-wave spectroscopic microscopy--to detect non-cancerous, nanoscale-sized changes that are telltale signs of lung, colon and pancreatic cancers.

The researchers founded Preora Diagnostics (now Preora Healthcare) and NanoCytomics to develop their system for use in doctors' offices. In a lung cancer screening study, the companies successfully differentiated hundreds of patients with and without lung cancer by scanning cells gathered from cheek swabs.

NSF Directorate(s):
Directorate for Engineering


Related Awards
#0238903 CAREER: Optical Spectroscopy and Imaging for Understanding the Interrelation of Molecular and Ultrastructural Changes in Neoplastic Cells and Early Cancer Detection
#0620303 SGER: Biophotonics Techniques for Accurate Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer
#0939778 EAGER: BISH: Biophotonics Technique for Detection of Lung Cancer
#0960148 MRI-R2: Development of biophotonics instrumentation for sensing subcellular structure at nanoscale

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