New Polymer Test Improves Lung Cancer Diagnosis, Says Experts

A new technique used for testing for the presence of lung cancer could potentially reduce diagnosis time from six months to four weeks, according to researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

This dramatic improvement in diagnosis time comes courtesy of a three-dimensional testing technique known as volumetrics. The procedure involves taking numerous CT scans from a variety of angles to produce a 3-D cross sectional image of the internal body. Through early research, the NIST team found that CT scan accuracy and amount of time needed to identify signs of lung cancer increased dramatically compared to current testing techniques.
To achieve these advancements, the research team used volumetrics to identify polymer-silicate ellipsoids present on the lungs. These polymer growths look similar in shape to a medical pill and range in diameter from four to 11 mm. As lead researcher Zachary Levine indicates, ” For diagnosis in the earliest stage of cancer, other studies have shown this is the size of nodule you want to be looking at.”

Presently, the most widely lung cancer diagnosis procedure is something known as RECIST. This process involves measuring the distance across suspect lung nodules as they are displayed in two-dimensional format. If a nodule is identified within a certain size range, then it may warrant additional tests to confirm lung cancer.

Through clever comparison tests, the team was able to show that volumetrics are capable of identifying signs of lung cancer that are ten time smaller than those visible via RECIST. According to Levine, “This implies that you could notice life-threatening changes from a follow-up scan performed only weeks after the first, instead of months.”

One potential downside of the new diagnosis technique is the fact that lung cancer does not always grow in the shape of elliptical pills. As such, diagnosis of certain cancer cases may remain more difficult.

Sources: http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/161031 http://www.nist.gov/pml/div685/ct_042710.cfm

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