Tumor Detecting App: Medicine's Next Big Thing?

November 2, 2011 8:45:30 AM PDT
Now, there's an app that can tell if a tumor's cancerous in almost no time at all!

According to the most recent statistics, an estimated 1,596,670 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer this year. About 571,950 of those diagnosed with cancer of all sites will die from it.

Cancer screening may reduce cancer morbidity since treatment of cancer in early stages is often less aggressive than it is in more advanced stages. Most cancer screenings are non-invasive or minimally invasive and carry some risks including false-negative screening tests, which may delay diagnosis and treatment or false-positive tests, which may cause unnecessary anxiety and other procedures that are unnecessary. (SOURCE: www.cancer.gov)

TYPES OF TESTING: Currently, there are several methods that are used to identify cancerous cells. Specific types of tests include:

  • Mammograms: This is a test that takes X-ray pictures of the breast.
  • Computed Tomography: This is a diagnostic procedure that uses special X-ray equipment to take cross-sectional pictures of the body. Computers display these pictures as detailed images.
  • Pap Test: This is also called a pap smear or cervical cytology. It examines cells by using a wooden scraper and brush to obtain cell samples.
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: This test analyzes the amount of PSA in the blood by obtaining blood samples.
(SOURCE: www.cancer.gov)

NEW TUMOR DETECTING APP: Usually, large samples of tissue are needed to analyze for cancer, but the new miniature nuclear magnetic resonance machine (NMR) can detect and screen cancer cells from a microscopic tissue sample. This new device can tell the difference between benign tumors and malignant growths with up to 100 percent accuracy based on testing that was done on patients with abnormal stomach tissue. More extensive clinical trials are in the works as this device has great potential for cancer detection and diagnosis. The system currently utilizes a miniaturized NMR probe for single-cell detection and uses a user-friendly iPhone interface. (SOURCE: www.massgeneralmag.org)


Cesar M. Castro, MD
Physician Investigator
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical Center
Boston, MA

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