Posts tagged ‘cancer detection’

An exhilarating development in cancer research in the last 10 years now consists of trials occurring at four cancer cure centers in America. The centers are utilizing an extremely responsive and new blood test developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. The test may transform the means for cancer healing. As tumors develop, they discharge cancerous cells into the blood stream. This fresh test pledges to identify the tiniest vestiges of cancer cells disseminating in the blood.

Dr. Dennis Haber, who is one of the researchers, has stated that, for every malignant cell in the blood, there are in excess of a billion blood cells in movement. In the latest test, a blood sample is moved across a microchip that is dealt with exceptional glue. Subsequently, Dr. Mehmet Toner explains that all these cells run through the chip, but only cancerous cells are detected by the chip and they bond with it, with the nontoxic cells being forwarded. The expectation is that, by appraising the amount and sorts of cancerous cells in the blood, physicians can ascertain whether a patient’s treatment is effective or not.

Dr. Elmer Huerta is a former President associated with the American Cancer Society (ACA). He has remarked that, in the treatment given by him, he observes if the tumor is lessening and vanishing in an X-ray and CT scan as well as an MRI. However, on occasions, only months later, a biopsy or X-ray illustrates if the treatment is effectual or not. During that period, crucial time is lost if the cancer lengthens. With this fresh test, physicians will be able to discern instantaneously if the patient still experiences cancer. This test, as per Dr. Pearson, will ensure that the follow-up of cancer sufferers will be more accurate and helpful. Pearson has stated that prudent usage of this technology will enable the detection of repetitive cancer cases earlier and fresh pills can then be supplied to neutralize that cancer.

All this research, however, is still in nascent stages and will take about five years to be comprehensive. Nevertheless, if it is successful, the researchers intend to popularize this test and make it broadly accessible.


Most cancers are diagnosed when the disease has progressed far ahead despite the availability of sophisticated cancer screening solutions. The latest study conducted by the Centres for Decease Control (CDC) has revealed that in the United States, almost half of the cervical and colorectal cases of cancer are detected when the decease is in the advanced stages. The same applies to nearly a third of all cases of breast cancer. These cancers are treatable and can be prevented provided they are diagnosed in the early stages, thus saving many valuable lives.

According to Dr. Marcus Plescia, MPH, Director, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, “the report causes concern because so many preventable cancers are not being diagnosed when treatment is most effective. More work is needed to widely implement evidence-based cancer screening tests which may lead to early detection and, ultimately, an increase in the number of lives saved.”

The data from the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries, its Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the Surveillance, and End Results Program of the National Cancer Institute was examined by the researchers.

The main aim of the study was to find out how prevalent was the use of screening solutions and how widespread were cases of late stages of breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. The study was based on factors such as demographics, ethnicity, age, gender and race in the various states between the years 2004 to 2006.

The report revealed that the occurrence of advanced stages of colorectal cancer was high among black adults. As compared to a malignancy rate of 92.6 in white males, black males had a malignancy rate of 114.0. Similarly among women, black women led with a rate of 85.6 while white women had a lower rate of 68.6.

The states which had the highest cases of advanced colorectal cancer were Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Connecticut, Maine, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Louisiana.


Tests for diagnosing malignancy, or the presence of cancer within the body, have become quite sophisticated of late. However, researchers have now hit on an entirely new kind of diagnostic test all together. The test, being hailed as a next generation test involves the trapping of bits and pieces of cancerous cells, which break away from the tumors, spreading to the other parts of the body via blood.

This method can be used to gain access to the tumor and is being regarded as a form of ‘liquid biopsy’ at present. The only approved unit based on this system is Johnson & Johnson’s Veridex unit which has the capability of capturing only a few cells right now. The researchers, along with the various pharmaceutical companies, are working on creating newer devices which can be effective in trapping the cells in larger quantities. This will ensure an adequate quantity for the various drug companies to test their new formulations as well as give the medical professionals a chance to check the efficacy of their treatments.

Although the tests are being conducted at various academic laboratories across the globe, a few of the major pharmaceutical companies are interested as well.  The RNAscope technology, which had been focused at finding genetic materials so far, has now been adapted to look for cancer cells in blood. The technology is currently being used by the Advanced Cell Diagnostics, Hayward, California. NaturalNano Inc of Rochester, New York, wants to utilize its nano tube technology for the same purpose while the Japanese company, Sysmex Corp, is working together with Oncolys BioPharma, looking forward to developing a virus that can recreate itself while being easily identifiable by means of a fluorescent light that it emits within the tumor cells.

The New York based Vitatex of Stony Brook has also made claims of developing a blood test for capturing the cancerous  cells of a tumor which is thought to be at least ten times more sensitive than all other tests of similar nature.


A completely new method for detecting lung cancer has been developed by the researchers belonging to the NorthShore University Health System (NorthShore) and the Northwestern University. The technique is unique as it involves using optical technology to examine the cells of the human cheek.

Examination of the cheek lining with the aid of biophotonics technology helps in screening the high risk patients for lung cancer, especially from  those who are habitual smokers. It is also possible to identity the individuals who would need more detailed and expensive tests and those who do not require any further tests at all.  The information was shared by the MD and director of gastroenterology research at NorthShore, Hemant K. Roy.

The technique based on optics is known as PWS or partial wave spectroscopic microscopy. It had been developed by Vadim Backman, a professor of biomedical engineering at the ‘Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science’. Backman, along with Roy, had also assessed the risks of colon and pancreatic cancers successfully with the aid of PWS.

Using PWS helps in detecting minute features of the cells which can be as small as 20 nanometers. These differences are not obvious by the more usual method of standard microscopy. The PWS test, on the other hand, utilizes the biological phenomenon of ‘field effect’ in which the cells situated in the vicinity of malignant or pre-malignant tumors undergo a number of molecular and other changes.

Hariharan Subramanian, a key researcher attached to Backman’s laboratory, reveals that the PWS has made it possible to detect cancer without having to examine the actual tumor first.

After conducting the tests on a small scale, Roy and Backman focused solely on the smokers. Almost 90% of all lung cancers are known to be aggravated due to smoking placing the group at the highest risk for developing carcinoma of the lung.

The study included a group of people with lung cancer as well as a number of other obstructive pulmonary diseases. It also took into consideration all the stages of cancer including the early ones which were curable as well.

Backman said that the PWS is akin to other cancer screening techniques namely the PAP smear. He added that their goal was to detect the disease early enough for improving the survival rate.

PWS now needs more validation tests before it can be used as a fool proof prescreening method for detection of cancer.

Source: Public release by Northwestern University on 5-Oct-2010

Published Online : Cancer Research Journal (5th October 2010)