Treatment for cancer involves long periods of waiting to see if a tumour shrinks, indicating that cancer radiation therapy or other therapy is actually working.
If a system could be found where a patient’s blood could be tested and compared instead this would be a major break through.
This technique is being developed by a team of American researchers lead by Dr. Alice Fan. Initially the facility will be for the various blood cancers but long term it could provide a simple test for a much large range of the different types of disease.
Using a special machine, the researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have been analyzing samples to see if they can detect proteins that are known to be associated with cancer. Consequently further monitoring will see if there are any changes once treatment is underway.
This method does not use a pint or even a small quantity of blood; it is working on a pin prick. The latter is usually what would be used before people donate blood and is enough to discover blood type.
Playing the waiting game during cancer treatments can ultimately cost lives because time is often what a sufferer does not have. If this technique could mean a quick and reliable test that does not involve more traumatic procedures it would be a great benefit.
Fan, who is an oncologist worked in the laboratory of the Molecular Therapeutics Program, is delighted with the findings. She feels that this technique would be a massive leap forward and will continue on with her important work.