A suite of optoelectronics technologies and processes has been applied to the process of detecting colon cancer in women.
Researchers at Northwestern University, a 160-year-old academic institution serving the north-west United States, combined the existing flexible sigmoidoscopy test with a new optical component.
This uses optoelectronics to detect the scattering of light through the tissue of the colon, in order to highlight the subtle cellular changes that take place when cancerous growth is present.
Study leader and professor of biomedical engineering Vadim Backman says: "Using these optical techniques, we can identify very subtle changes in tissue that appears to be normal when examined using traditional techniques."
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is not widely used as a screening mechanism for colon cancer as a colonoscopy examines more of the organ, according to the scientists.
However, with the new optical method used to enhance the results, the faster and cheaper approach could find greater favour with physicians.