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Saturday 29th October 2016

3D images could help spot cancer

24th April 2012

A team from the University of Leeds has said using 3D images of tissue samples could help to identify cancer earlier.


Researchers have come up with a way of generating colour, 3D images of tissue samples which can be manipulated on a computer screen.

While tissue scanning is not a new technique - digital microscopy first came into use around a decade ago - the scanners create 2D images.

Dr Derek Magee, who was one of the researchers, said this had its limitations and a 3D image could provide more data than a 2D one.

He told the BBC: "The tissue is of course three-dimensional, and in a lot of applications this three-dimensional nature is important."

"For example, if you take a blood vessel, which is a branching network of tubes, and you take a slice of it, the 2D image that you get is an ellipse. This tells you absolutely nothing about the connectivity, or the specific branching, of that particular network of blood vessels, which could be particularly important for cancer specialists." 

The new method uses very thin slices of tissue which are cut using a microtome machine into many pieces.

The pieces are then stacked onto 1mm glass slides and put into the scanner, which uses software to generate a 3D shape from the slides.

Dr Magee added: "This may help spot small tumours that could be missed by conventional approaches."

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