A team of Stanford scientists are developing a "tricorder" device that could be able to detect cancerous tumors from a foot away from the patient, according to Engadget. The device stems from research prompted by DARPA that aimed to find a way to detect bombs that were buried in soil; this same principle is now being modified in order to build the aforementioned tricorder system to detect cancerous growths, as explored in the paper.

The radio frequency (RF)/ultrasound hybrid imaging system that underlies the technology is designed for the remote detection of objects embedded in various kinds of matter such as water, soil and, in this case, human tissue, according to RT.

"We think we could develop instrumentation sufficiently sensitive to disclose the presence of tumors, and perhaps other health anomalies, much earlier than current detection systems, non-intrusively and with a handheld portable device," said Amin Arbabian, one of the creators of the device.

The fact that the device will be able to detect tumors from outside of the body will save hospitals the time and effort needed for more invasive procedures, according to Med Device Online.

According to Pierre Khuri-Yakub, one of the leaders of the project, the technology will not likely be ready for use in hospitals for some time.

"We've been working on this for a little over two years," he said. "We're still at an early stage but we're confident that in five to ten to fifteen years, this will become practical and widely available."