Technology: it’s the way of the future!
Detecting cancer isn’t always an easy task. In some cases, there are simple methods to detect cancer. For example, men can pee on a pregnancy test and if it comes out positive, it’s an indication of prostate cancer. Women may notice a lump on their breast to indicate breast cancer. However, there are other types of cancer that are much harder to detect. You may not be able to detect cancer like bone marrow cancer, skin cancer, or lung cancer until it’s too late.
However, according to BioMed Central, American scientists have created a computer program that is able to detect cancer. Not only that, but it is able to pinpoint its location in the body. All this from just a simple blood sample!
A team of scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles are behind the computer program. They created a computer program that looks for specific molecular patterns in the blood. These patterns indicate the presence of cancer, and stand out from the typical DNA found in healthy human blood. Once the computer program finds the cancer DNA patterns, it compares the patterns to a database. The database contains tumor epigenetics from a wide variety of cancer types. Basically, the program searches the database to find the type of cancer DNA that most closely matches the DNA markers found in the blood sample.
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The great thing about this test is that it can detect cancer even in its early stages. The computer program is designed to look for the DNA that are early indicators of cancer. From the earliest stages, the cancer DNA is present in the blood. Once the computer spots it, it can compare it to the other samples in its database to find the type of cancer it most resembles. The result: early detection and location of the cancer!
There are a lot of DNA markers that make various types of cancer unique. The methylation patterns of lung cancer, liver cancer, and breast cancer are similar yet different enough they can be identified by the computer program. The program simply compares the molecular footprint of the cancer DNA to find its origin.
To prove the effectiveness of the program, the researchers tested the blood of more than 40 cancer patients. The patients’ blood samples were taken and run through the machine. The error rate of existing cancer-detection technology was around 0.6, while the new program had a 0.2 error rate. The program was far more accurate at detecting the liver, breast, and lung cancer of the patients included in the study.
The computer program was able to detect the cancer even at its earliest stages 80% of the time. Even though the level of cancer DNA was significantly lower in the early stages, the computer program was accurate and detailed enough to pick up the DNA markers in the blood.
The lead author stated that certain types of cancers will be easier to detect than others. For example, organs like the liver and lungs receive a lot of circulation, meaning a lot more cancer DNA can spread into the bloodstream. Breast tissue doesn’t receive a lot of circulation, so there are fewer cancer markers in the blood. However, the sensitivity and accuracy of the computer program can be improved upon to increase the chance it will detect cancer.
With this new tool, it may be possible to find and treat cancer in its early stages. Early cancer treatment is often enough to prevent it from becoming fatal. MILLIONS of lives could be saved thanks to this computer program!
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