Tiny sensors which would monitor tumours in unprecedented levels of detail are being developed in a five-year project at a university.
The devices, about the size of an eyelash, would be implanted into patients' tumours, where they could "spy" on a cancerous growth's activity.
Experts believe the development would allow doctors to administer radiotherapy and, in time, chemotherapy where and when it is most needed, ultimately improving recovery rates.
Professor Alan Murray, of the University of Edinburgh's school of engineering, who is leading the study, said: "Experts including scientists, engineers, clinicians and social scientists will be working to target cancer, one of the biggest health concerns of today, in an entirely new way.
"Our aim is, in the long term, to help to alleviate suffering and to improve the outlook for very many cancer patients."
The miniature chips will be designed to measure vital factors about tumours, such as their levels of blood oxygen and key biological molecules. The information would then be transmitted wirelessly to medical staff.
The readings would enable doctors to target stubborn areas of a tumour that need more intensified radiotherapy.
Sensors would also measure how effective any treatment is in killing cancer cells, enabling therapy to be personalised to individual patients.
Prof Murray said: "What we do at the moment with radiotherapy is rather like night-time bombing. We apply radiotherapy to the area where the tumour is, on a regular schedule.
"What these sensors will do is it to say 'the tumour needs radiotherapy of greater intensity at this particular point right now'. It's almost like a pinpoint strike with a guided missile."