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Contact: Valene Marshall
National Science Foundation

Breakthrough in Early Cancer Detection

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Caption: With few early symptoms, ovarian cancer -- like many cancers -- can be hard to detect without invasive and expensive procedures. “Early detection is absolutely not only key but probably the only way for us to win the war on cancer,” says Vadim Backman who is a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. With support from the National Science Foundation, in part funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Backman’s research is shedding light on how early cancer detection can be made cheaper, more accurate, and less invasive. “We’re developing new optics technologies to learn about tissue structure and composition, and we are applying these technologies for early cancer screening,” he says. The team’s research is part of a field that’s called biophotonics, where light becomes an analytical tool for biology.

Credit: Jon Baime, Science Nation Producer

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