Medicine: Faster Cancer Detection

Up to 16 years ago, cancer was detected by the crude method of waiting for an obvious malignancy to appear. Then Dr. George Papanicolaou of Cornell University Medical College devised his revolutionary method of early detection: smearing body secretions on glass slides for microscopic study of cells. In thousands of doctors' offices, the now standard Papanicolaou technique is to stain cells with polychrome dyes. Seen in the visible spectrum of light, the dyes readily emphasize the structure of malignant cells.

Last week an important speedup of this fast detection method was reported to...

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