Acetic acid, inducing transient whitening (acetowhitening) when applied to epithelial tissues, is a commonly used contrast agent for detecting early cervical cancer. The goals of this research are to investigate the temporal characteristics of acetowhitening process in cervical epithelial tissue at cellular level and develop a clear understanding of the diagnostic information carried in the acetowhitening signal. A system measuring time-resolved reflectance was built to study the rising and decay processes of acetowhitening signal from the monolayered cell cultures of normal and cancerous cervical squamous cells. It is found that the dynamic processes of acetowhitening in normal and cancerous cells are significantly different. The results of this study provide insight valuable to further understand the acetowhitening process in epithelial cells and to encourage the development of an objective procedure to detect the early cervical cancers based on quantitative monitoring of the dynamic process of acetowhitening.
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