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New method for early lung cancer detection

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http://www.dnaindia.com/health/report_n ... 448459-all

ANI / Tuesday, October 19, 2010 21:00 IST Scientists have developed a method to detect early signs of lung cancer by examining cheek cells in humans using pioneering bio-photonics technology.

The study has been conducted by researchers from Northwestern University and NorthShore University Health System (NorthShore).

"By examining the lining of the cheek with this optical technology, we possess the potential to pre-screen patients at high risk for lung cancer, such as those who smoke, and identify the individuals who would likely benefit from more invasive and expensive tests," said Hemant K Roy, MD, director of gastroenterology research at NorthShore.

The optical technique is called partial wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy and was developed by Vadim Backman, professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Backman and Roy earlier used PWS to assess the risk of colon and pancreatic cancer.

PWS can detect cell features as small as 20 nanometres, uncovering differences in cells that appear normal using standard microscopy techniques.

The PWS-based test makes use of the 'field effect', a biological phenomenon in which cells located some distance from the malignant or pre-malignant tumour undergo molecular and other changes.

After testing the technology in a small-scale trial, Roy and Backman focused the study on smokers, since smoking is the major risk factor related to 90% of lung cancer patients.

The study included 135 participants — 63 smokers with lung cancer and 37 smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 13 smokers without COPD, and 22 non-smokers — acting as three control groups.

The research was not confounded by the participants' demographic factors such as amount of smoking, age or gender. Importantly, the test was equally sensitive to cancers of all stages, including early curable cancers.

The researchers swabbed the inside of patients' mouths, and then the cheek cells were applied to a slide, fixed in ethanol and optically scanned using PWS to measure the disorder strength of cell nano-architecture.

Results were markedly elevated (greater than 50%) in patients with lung cancer compared to cancer-free smokers.

A further assessment of the performance characteristics of the 'disorder strength' (as a biomarker) showed greater than 80% accuracy in discriminating cancer patients from individuals in the three control groups.

The lung cancer findings were published online by the journal Cancer Research.

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