|MLA Citation:||Bloomfield, Louis A. "Question 1156"|
How Everything Works 19 Mar 2018. 19 Mar 2018 <http://howeverythingworks.org/print1.php?QNum=1156>.
The instrument is based on the discovery that most tissues when illuminated by blue or UV light emit a natural fluorescence spectral signature known as autofluorescence. This fluorescence signature is the sum of the emission of the various biochemical fluorphores present in the tissue. If the tissue chemical or physical structure changes, then the spectral signature changes. By exploiting differences in the spectral signature between cancerous and healthy tissue one can create an imaging device that can "see" the difference in the color of the autofluorescence of the tissue and detect changes that may indicate the presence of cancer. The sensors used to see the low levels of fluorescence light employ similar technology to military night vision devices. Once areas of change are located and confirmed by analysis of a biopsy sample treatment can begin. This technique is primarily useful for early stage cancers that are not visually apparent to a physician.