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Biotech Science

Detecting Cancer Without Drawing Blood 72

An anonymous reader informs us of research out of Purdue that allows for early detection of cancer without a blood sample. The technique involves shining laser light on surface veins, such as those in the wrist or cheek.
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Detecting Cancer Without Drawing Blood

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  • by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:19PM (#20496563) Homepage
    I remember my dad taking a continued education class for dentistry, and he saw something like this.. several years ago. I'm not sure if it was the same thing, but apparently it found cancer in people even before they show symptoms.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well this is news to me. I have a family history of lung and colon cancer that metastasize and kill you. I think inventions like this are wonderful but it leaves me a simple question. How much does a scanning cost and is it covered by insurance? Considering I have none and would have to pay out of pocket; I would like to know? Another question. If cancer cells are detected very early on; what experimental treatments are there? For the most part, medical science deals with cancer when it's progressed to dang
      • Re:New? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:09PM (#20499533) Homepage
        This is not a screening test. You have to know exactly what cancer you have, make tagged cells with the correct antibodies to said cancer, inject those cells and then the Magic Machine counts them. You could conceivably use this to screen for a specific cancer if you did all that work to make the target, but I really doubt that will ever prove practical.

        This would be for evaluating treatments of known cancers.

      • by dintech ( 998802 )
        I would hate to be given a diagnosis of pre-brain cancer

        It could be worse. You could have pee-brain cancer.
  • Use a dog (Score:4, Informative)

    by jag7720 ( 685739 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:23PM (#20496625) Homepage
    Dogs have been used to sniff out cancer patience for a long time... plus they are a lot more friendly and playful than a laser.
    • by PJ1216 ( 1063738 ) *
      i read about that, but it involves them sniffing the blood culture though, doesn't it? or did it work on patients as well?
      • They've proven fairly accurate in locating most types of skin cancers and some internal cancers. I believe that they can identify lung cancer by smelling the breath of a patient, although as far as I know there haven't been any reverse tests, where they look for the disease AFTER the dog indicates (kind of like drug dogs, you tear the car up after the dog sits, instead of tearing up the car and then having the dog say "yup, drugs").

        There are two protein markers that are reliable indicators of the presence
    • Although if you do happen to draw blood...
    • If they just attach 'freaking' laser beams to the dogs, you can have a hybrid, with the best of both worlds.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jag7720 ( 685739 )
        Yeah. And the dog can have fun chasing and biting at the laser dot on the floor or the patient's leg....

        "Um, sir... we regret to inform you that you have cancer in your leg as well as a very deep dog bite... we will need to treat with radiation to the leg and rabies shots to the abdomen.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:26PM (#20496689)
      Then I must have a lot of butt cancer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      sniff out cancer patience

      I, for one, have very little patience with cancer.
    • by fataugie ( 89032 )
      Yeah, that's what Mike Vick was doing....raising dogs to sniff cancer in other dogs....Yeah, that's the ticket.
    • Dogs have been used to sniff out cancer patience for a long time... plus they are a lot more friendly and playful than a laser.

      Well you certainly haven't met these new cancer-detecting lasers, then! They're the downright friendliest and cuddliest lasers you've ever seen! And playful? You betcha they're playful! Why you should have seen the young cancer patient Timmy running around and laughing with his new coherent light pal. And Timmy just loves his new eye patch he got after cuddling with his buddy t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:27PM (#20496699)
    ...always seems to work for me! ;)
  • It sure would be nice to have one of these, maybe they should be included with every box of Microwave Popcorn [].
  • Sample Size (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:32PM (#20496771)
    The real advantage of this technique is that it allows measurement of a larger size sample. There is still an injection of the florescent label, but by scanning the body surface a much larger blood sample can be monitored which makes this method more sensitive - making detection at an early stage better.

  • Sharks (Score:3, Funny)

    by BlowHole666 ( 1152399 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:34PM (#20496803)
    Does the Laser come with its own shark?
  • Next step - zapping? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gregor-e ( 136142 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:45PM (#20496919) Homepage
    Now, if only they could zap each metastatic cell that passes under their instrument, they'd be able to limit the spread (or, at least, limit those metastases that spend quite a while surfing the blood before finally lodging somewhere else).
    • by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:50PM (#20496985)
      I was thinking the exact same thing, using something like a gamma knife. Gamma rays have a wavelength much smaller than cells, so you could use several beams to target individual cells. Each beam wouldn't be lethal, but when combined, they would kill the cell. There are techniques using femto-second lasers to release the laser energy at a specific depth. Now, all you need is a femto-second gamma ray laser...
  • There are people who are training hound dogs to detect cancer in people.

    The dogs are better suited to the task than some million dollar laser beam. 20_040820_detectordogs.html []

    Dogs are cheaper to train and maintain. And, they provide therapy for those who are proven positive.

    It's win-win.
    • There are people who are training hound dogs to detect cancer in people.

      The dogs are better suited to the task than some million dollar laser beam.
      Yes, but only for cancers with outside access, like lung cancer (breath), prostate etc (urine), colon (fecal matter) etc.
      There are lots of cancers that they can't detect.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DragonTHC ( 208439 )
        Not true.

        the dogs have been able to successfully detect internal tumors months before a blood test on other systems.
        Dogs have successfully detected kidney cancer as well.
        • the dogs have been able to successfully detect internal tumors months before a blood test on other systems.
          Yes, internal organs which throw out garbage outside, all the digestive tract, yep.

          Dogs have successfully detected kidney cancer as well.
          Ahem. And kidneys are not connected to the outside world?

          Heart, brain, bone cancer etc are out.
    • by Gulthek ( 12570 )

      Dogs are cheaper to train and maintain. And, they provide therapy for those who are proven positive.

      Unless they hate dogs.
    • Its been established that sharks have amazing olfactory perception. If we were able to train them like the dogs and attach the laser beams to their heads, we might have a winning frikkin combination. If not we could always try sea bass, although I think they have to be ill-tempered...
    • Dogs are cheaper to train and maintain.

      Based on what analysis?

      • How much do they cost to train?
      • How much do they cost to feed?
      • How much does their yearly medical bills cost?

      You can't just make a statement like that without any supporting facts.

      Perhaps most importantly:
      A) How much work can a cancer sniffing dog do per day?
      B) How will that work compare to a machine that can give you a definitive answer about the number of cancer cells per xyz milliliters of blood?

      So what I'm really trying to say, is that dogs are not an equivalent alternative. If y

    • Wrong.
      The cancer-sniffing dogs can detect some kinds of cancer, but not all kinds. This will be true of any detection method, including the laser method described above. If you want to a have a good chance of early detection, you need to employ as many methods as you can.
  • One step closer to a working tricorder.

  • Detecting it still needs the 'detection done'. Then if that is done, we still need a fix for all the various cancers that abound.

    So, there is a new way to detect cancer - how many people here actually get tested for cancer at anytime?

    My guess is ZERO
  • ...cause cancer?
    • Not in general. If a laser can cause cancer or not depends on the wavelength of light used. For any form of EM radiation to be able to cause cancer, its photons must have sufficient energy to ionise atoms and molecules it strikes. The energy of the photons depends on the wavelength ( i.e colour ) of the light in question. The higher the energy the more types of molecules and atoms may be ionised. In practise there are relatively few compounds that respond to light in the visible region (thou some do) and ev
    • Not directly, but some lasers will light cigarettes....
  • the only drawback is that they use a cancer laser.
  • My dad recently passed away from pancreatic cancer that wasn't detected until it was too far advanced... it was previously diagnosed as a stomach ulcer and possibly gallstones, by several doctors, partly because the symptoms came on so fast. We talked to the surgeon later on to see what the word was on early detection of pancreatic cancer, and it sounds like at this point in time they have no real, easy way to detect it (unlike, say, breast cancer, which can often be caught by self-exam). News like this is
  • when they can detect cancer without sticking a hand up my butt, and I'll be happy. A laser would be fine, where a dog would definitely not....or would it?
  • A few months ago I had a lip scan to test a new method of screening for colon cancer. I developed colon cancer at an unusually young age, 31, and I'm going through genetic testing to see if my family members are at risk. One hereditary defect is polyposis, but I don't seem to have that. Another is called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).

    We're doing blood and tissue screening at the cost of thousands of dollars. But some researchers believe that they can detect HNPCC simply by examining
  • I heard that if your hand is bigger than your face you'll get cancer! Try it!
  • That's great. Anything, any improvement that helps detect cancer(s) earlier is worth it's weight in gold (so to speak).

    However, it won't do any good unless the insurance companies will cover it. I was sick for 4 to 5 months. I was running a mild fever continuously, felt miserable and was tired constantly. For months my doctor screwed around, because he knows the HMO won't approve a thorough test. I got the run around, "It must be a systemic infection, let's try this antibiotic." Then,

  • who have to pay $1/blood glucose test (~$100/mo) for consumable test strips. Would somebody please offer an X Prize for whomever invents a consumable-free method of testing blood sugars.
  • get cancer because of this laser?
  • Needles = unconsciousness for me, and I don't thing something resembling a barcode scanner will have the same result. Now if they can just apply this to everything else doctors wanna stick me for...

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