Experts agree that early detection is critical to effectively treat cancer. Receiving a comprehensive diagnosis in the disease’s early stages can help physicians tailor a treatment plan to a patient’s specific needs, which can improve patient outcomes and avoid unnecessary costs. Tools, such as mammography, are useful, but can give imprecise results that set patients down the wrong path. Fortunately, there may be a new tool for physicians to receive the information they need.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a pill that makes tumors glow when exposed to infrared light. The molecular imaging pill has two elements that work in tandem to illuminate tumors: the first is an infrared dye that attaches to cancerous cells, and the second is an agent that delivers the dye through the blood stream. Oncologists are already using infrared dye to capture images of tumors, but injecting the dye can cause adverse reactions in some patients. So far, administering the dye using the pill has shown no such effects.
Pill Effective in Showing Breast Cancer Tumors
The team in Michigan has tested the pill on mice that have been infected with breast cancer and watched as their tumors were illuminated. Not only was the pill effective in delivering the dye to the tumor, but by targeting specific types of molecules found in tumors and the blood vessels that feed them, it could also distinguish between malignant and benign masses. Taking the guesswork out of classifying tumors can help patients with benign growths avoid the pain and expense of treatment that they do not need.
This is an exciting development for the diagnosis of breast cancer for several reasons. Breast tissue is very dense and can make it difficult to identify tumors lurking beneath during a mammogram. Growths that appear on a mammogram may be either malignant or benign, leading to imprecise treatment plans. A recent Danish study revealed that one-third of breast cancer patients who undergo surgery or chemotherapy are treating benign or slow-growing tumors that have almost no chance of becoming life-threatening. The pill is much more comfortable than a mammogram and gives doctors better information.
Researchers are hopeful that this tool could be used to diagnose other cancers, such as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and fatal cancer, effecting the lining of the lungs, heart, and chest cavity. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, and it can lay dormant in the body for decades before patients experience any symptoms. Once diagnosed, it is very difficult to treat, as it is resistant to many common therapies. Having a safe and accurate method of diagnosing mesothelioma tumors could help patients receive treatment before the disease has progressed and deliver a better prognosis. Until the pill completes its clinical trials and becomes widely available, patients will have to settle for current diagnostic tools.
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If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, call the Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. We will prepare an aggressive legal strategy to obtain the compensation and justice you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we help clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 877-743-4652 or contact us online to review your case.