Konstantin Ivshin/ShutterstockAny doctor will tell you: Detecting cancer early can make all the difference in saving lives. Now, in a promising study from Georgia State University, researchers report that they used a new blood test involving infrared scanning to diagnose two types of cancer—lymphoma and melanoma—at incredibly early stages.
The researchers at Georgia State University used a technology called infrared spectroscopy to scan blood samples from mice with lymphoma and melanoma cancers. They were able to spot distinctive biomarkers for the cancers in the infected mice’s blood samples, suggesting that infrared spectroscopy has the potential to one day be used as a screening technique for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and melanoma—which happens to be the deadliest form of skin cancer, and a compelling reason to keep using your sunscreen, even in winter.
Using this type of diagnosis would be exceedingly more affordable than current diagnostics, which include very costly tissue examination and biopsy (often only partially covered by insurance, if at all). Melanoma is on the rise among fair-skinned people; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma accounts for four percent of new cancer cases in the United States.
“Our final goal is to say we can use this infrared technique to identify various diseases,” said researcher Unil Perera, MD, Regents Professor of Physics at Georgia State. “This study shows infrared spectroscopy can identify cancer. Right now, when you go to the doctor, they do blood tests for sugar and several other things, but not for serious diseases like cancer and colitis. One day, we hope that even these serious diseases can be rapidly screened.”
While we’re still a ways away from having a human application for this type of cancer screening, this promising study shows a way to get there. In the meantime, let’s all do our best to stay healthy.