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Optical technologies, such as reflectance and fluorescence microscopy, may help detect and diagnose cancers that originate in the epithelium. The epithelium is the layer of tissue that is exposed to the environment and lines the body's cavities. Cancers that originate in the epithelium include cervical, oral, colon, lung, stomach, bladder and skin cancers. The curable precursors to cervical cancer are cervical epithelial lesions that have larger and more densely spaced nuclei. A fiber-optic confocal microscope (FOCM) has been developed at the Optical Spectroscopy Lab, University of Texas at Austin, to help detect and diagnose these lesions in vivo. With the aid of acetic acid as a contrast agent, the FOCM shows nuclear size and density information throughout the epithelium, presenting the same information as histology but without removing, staining and slicing cervical epithelial tissue. (There are also spatial resolution requirements for showing cell nuclei.) The Optical Spectroscopy Lab continues to develop confocal microscopic instrumentation, new contrast agents, and image processing techniques to improve early detection of precancerous cervical lesions.