Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a laser probe that can identify early-stage oral cancer and locate tumour edges during surgery.

The probe stimulates the patient’s tissue molecules, which respond by re-emitting fluorescent light.

The laser analyses this emitted light using time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy to determine the types of molecules present.

Surgeons can also use changes in fluorescence to locate the edges of a tumour during surgery.

A study involving nine people at the University of California Davis Medical Center showed that the laser probe could accurately diagnose cancer.

Details of the study have been published in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.