NEW ORLEANS — A researcher at Tulane University in Louisiana has secured a $1.6 million grant to try to develop a scanner that could rapidly check after prostate cancer surgery whether all traces of cancer have been removed.

The four-year grant from the National Cancer Institute will let J. Quincy Brown work with engineers, mathematicians and medical doctors on developing a rapid microscopy scanner, according to a Tulane news release Tuesday. The team includes doctors in California and Maryland.

Brown said the first step toward cure is often surgery, and complete tumor removal is an important goal. “Yet it is difficult to determine in real-time if tumor removal is successful,” he said.

In prostate cancer, he noted, the surgeon must work to avoid nerves and blood vessels that are important for the patient’s quality of life after surgery.

The team hopes to create a device that can scan the entire prostate surface for residual tumor within 10 minutes of removal and create a map-like image showing whether any cancer cells remain. Once they’ve completed the device, Brown and his team will test it on 250 patients.

Tulane collaborators on the project are pathologist Dr. Andrew Sholl, urologist Dr. Jonathan Silberstein and mathematics professor Michelle Lacey. The team also includes Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and Dr. Jonathan Epstein, a pathologist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.

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