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Describes a novel optical imaging method for the in vivo early detection, quantitative staging, and mapping of cervical cancer and precancer. A multispectral imaging system was developed, which is capable of performing time-resolved imaging spectroscopy. The system was used in order to assess quantitatively the alterations in the light scattering properties of the cervix, induced selectively and reversibly in cervical neoplasias, after the application of acetic acid solution. Spectral imaging and analysis of cervix show that the maximum contrast between acetic acid responsive and nonresponsive areas is obtained at 525±15 nm, which is further enhanced by cutting off the regular component of tissue reflection, with the aid of two linear cross polarizers. Successive snapshot imaging at this spectral band enables the quantitative assessment of the temporal alterations in the intensity of the backscattered light, in any spatial location of the examined area. Initial clinical trials show that optical contrast enhancement results in a notable improvement of the sensitivity in detecting incipient lesions. It was also shown that the measured temporal characteristics of the phenomenon contain specific information, which enables the differentiation between neoplastic and nonneoplastic lesions, as well as between neoplasias of different grade. The demonstrated improved sensitivity and specificity highlight the potential of the method in both clinical research and noninvasive diagnosis.