The MasSpec Pen rapidly and accurately detects cancer during surgery. (University of Texas at Austin)

Engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have invented the MasSpec Pen that rapidly and accurately identifies cancerous tissue during surgery, delivering results in about 10 seconds — more than 150 times as fast as existing technology. The instrument gives surgeons precise diagnostic information about what tissue to cut or preserve, helping improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence.

The pen is also able to detect cancer in marginal regions between normal and cancer tissues that present mixed cellular composition.