Soon, you could be determining your breast cancer risk with a simple needle jab, to collect a small amount of tissue — which doctors would electrify and subject to weird chemicals, before extracting the estrogen for analysis.

Researchers believe that the estrogen levels in breast tissue are an early indicator of breast cancer risk. So they've devised a special chip, smaller than a credit card, to extract the estrogen from breast tissue so doctors can study it. Electricity coaxes liquid to move across the chip, based on the science of "digital microfluidics." As the liquid travels, it dissolves the dried tissue sample, then moves along to another reservoir containing a second liquid, and then on to a third reservoir where it circulates and removes contaminants and other biological components. What's left is a purer sample of estrogen, which can indicate your level of cancer risk.

Here's a handy diagram:


[via EurekAlert]