Prostate cancer is the most common noncutaneous cancer among males, making proper diagnosis extremely important. Distinguishing between biopsied benign and malignant prostate tissue can be difficult. A new prototype device developed by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies und Systems IKTS, Dresden, Germany, may help facilitate that diagnosis. They say that using a visual analysis, they can reliably determine carcinoma within a minute-and-a-half.

Typically, doctors take a biopsy of prostate tissue by inserting a small needle into the prostate, using ultrasound images to assist with navigation. Taken this way, the sample is sectioned at a laboratory then sent to a pathologist for examination and determination. The results can take days or even longer.

The Fraunhofer device is different. The physician places the removed tissue sample on a base plate, slides it into the machine, presses a button, and within one and a half minutes, receives a reliable indication of whether the tissue in the sample is benign or malignant, they say

Since the sample does not require a long preparation time and can be pushed directly into the device and analyzed after it has been taken, the doctor receives the results immediately and can talk with the patient much sooner about the next steps to take.

They explain that the analyses are based on the auto-fluorescence that human tissue emits. If the doctor sets the removed tissue in the device, starts the measurement, emits a dosage of laser pulse and excites the fluorophores, then the laser pulse stimulates the fluorescent molecules in the tissue to release light. The way in which this fluorescence radiation decreases differs between benign and malignant tissue.