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Detecting Cancer Without Drawing Blood

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the you'll-feel-a-slight-pinch dept.

Biotech 72

An anonymous reader informs us of research out of Purdue that allows for early detection of cancer without a blood sample. The technique involves shining laser light on surface veins, such as those in the wrist or cheek.

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This was already posted ./ (-1, Offtopic)

techoon (1150597) | about 7 years ago | (#20496559)

editors please have a look at this. [] the story has already been posted. so it is better to replace the link WITH EALY POSTED ONE.

Re:This was already posted ./ (3, Informative)

GeckoX (259575) | about 7 years ago | (#20496701)

What're you asking for exactly?
It's very common for there to be multiple versions of the same story in the firehose, editors pick the best.

In this case, they picked the one that linked to the actual news release, not to a secondary news source as you suggest they should have.

Re:This was already posted ./ (1)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | about 7 years ago | (#20496897)

But it might have been his blog! :GASP: Now you've taken away the rightful income that is guaranteed!

I apologize for the above, but I hate blog trolls...

blog troll (2, Interesting)

everphilski (877346) | about 7 years ago | (#20497103)

yup, his one and only journal entry links to the same site, different article.

Re:This was already posted ./ (2, Informative)

GeckoX (259575) | about 7 years ago | (#20497105)

Yeah, that's kinda exactly what I was getting at...there was no reasonable justification for suggesting that the article he linked to in the firehose should have taken precedent in getting picked for the main page...definitely suspect an ulterior motive there.

Re:This was already posted ./ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20496703)

It wasn't posted on the editor /. only on the firehose.

These are 'seperate' sites.

Re:This was already posted ./ (3, Insightful)

nonsequitor (893813) | about 7 years ago | (#20496717)

Technically its not a dupe, its still in the firehose. Additionally this had the better of the 2 summaries. You'll notice MANY dupes on the firehose, so its not even a big deal.

Learn how slashdot works before telling editors they're doing it wrong. Oh wait, carry on.

Re:This was already posted ./ (2, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | about 7 years ago | (#20496719)

I'd rather have the link to Purdue since they're the ones conducting the research, rather than some tech news blog. Just because something came first, doesn't make it the better choice. A better summary or a better link should always win out over earlier submission in my book.

Re:This was already posted ./ (1)

Gulthek (12570) | about 7 years ago | (#20497507)

Ha ha, wrong. The best summary (well written, links to the original source of the news, etc) gets the front page. The summary that you link to in firehose is extremely poorly written, links to some random blog (yours I assume), and is otherwise lacking in rhetorical merit.

Re:This was already posted ./ (1)

hkmwbz (531650) | about 7 years ago | (#20504721)

Ah hah hah... I just had to post in this epic blog spammer exposure thread. LOL. "Boo hoo, you didn't pick my spam blog over the original source!" :-D

New? (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 7 years ago | (#20496563)

I remember my dad taking a continued education class for dentistry, and he saw something like this.. several years ago. I'm not sure if it was the same thing, but apparently it found cancer in people even before they show symptoms.

Re:New? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20496885)

Well this is news to me. I have a family history of lung and colon cancer that metastasize and kill you. I think inventions like this are wonderful but it leaves me a simple question. How much does a scanning cost and is it covered by insurance? Considering I have none and would have to pay out of pocket; I would like to know? Another question. If cancer cells are detected very early on; what experimental treatments are there? For the most part, medical science deals with cancer when it's progressed to dangerous levels. I would hate to be given a diagnosis of pre-brain cancer and be told you have 3 years to live. It would drive me nuts!

Re:New? (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 years ago | (#20499533)

This is not a screening test. You have to know exactly what cancer you have, make tagged cells with the correct antibodies to said cancer, inject those cells and then the Magic Machine counts them. You could conceivably use this to screen for a specific cancer if you did all that work to make the target, but I really doubt that will ever prove practical.

This would be for evaluating treatments of known cancers.

Re:New? (1)

dintech (998802) | about 7 years ago | (#20505191)

I would hate to be given a diagnosis of pre-brain cancer

It could be worse. You could have pee-brain cancer.

Use a dog (4, Informative)

jag7720 (685739) | about 7 years ago | (#20496625)

Dogs have been used to sniff out cancer patience for a long time... plus they are a lot more friendly and playful than a laser.

Re:Use a dog (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | about 7 years ago | (#20496657)

i read about that, but it involves them sniffing the blood culture though, doesn't it? or did it work on patients as well?

Re:Use a dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20496901)

it involves them sniffing the blood culture though, doesn't it?

No, they just have to sniff the patients arse.

Ba-doom-tschiiiii Thank you, I'll be at the bar if anyone needs me.

Re:Use a dog (1)

dmpyron (1069290) | about 7 years ago | (#20500411)

They've proven fairly accurate in locating most types of skin cancers and some internal cancers. I believe that they can identify lung cancer by smelling the breath of a patient, although as far as I know there haven't been any reverse tests, where they look for the disease AFTER the dog indicates (kind of like drug dogs, you tear the car up after the dog sits, instead of tearing up the car and then having the dog say "yup, drugs").

There are two protein markers that are reliable indicators of the presence of some cancers. Carol's oncologist tested for them every two weeks from before she started chemo until after the lumpectomy. She tested normal in July of last year and again in January and July.

There are lots of tests for very specific cancers (PSA and pap are the two most common). The holy grail is the you-have-cancer-and-the-cancer-is-xxx. It's worth a Nobel Prize. Assuming somebody doesn't find a cure for AIDS the same year.

Use a shark (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 7 years ago | (#20496671)

Although if you do happen to draw blood...

Re:Use a dog (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | about 7 years ago | (#20496681)

If they just attach 'freaking' laser beams to the dogs, you can have a hybrid, with the best of both worlds.

Re:Use a dog (2, Funny)

jag7720 (685739) | about 7 years ago | (#20496791)

Yeah. And the dog can have fun chasing and biting at the laser dot on the floor or the patient's leg....

"Um, sir... we regret to inform you that you have cancer in your leg as well as a very deep dog bite... we will need to treat with radiation to the leg and rabies shots to the abdomen.

Re:Use a dog (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20496689)

Then I must have a lot of butt cancer.

Re:Use a dog (1)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | about 7 years ago | (#20496925)

Beats the crotch cancer I now think I have!

Re:Use a dog (2, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 7 years ago | (#20496941)

sniff out cancer patience

I, for one, have very little patience with cancer.

Re:Use a dog (1)

fataugie (89032) | about 7 years ago | (#20497467)

Yeah, that's what Mike Vick was doing....raising dogs to sniff cancer in other dogs....Yeah, that's the ticket.

Re:Use a dog (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 7 years ago | (#20497669)

Dogs have been used to sniff out cancer patience for a long time... plus they are a lot more friendly and playful than a laser.

Well you certainly haven't met these new cancer-detecting lasers, then! They're the downright friendliest and cuddliest lasers you've ever seen! And playful? You betcha they're playful! Why you should have seen the young cancer patient Timmy running around and laughing with his new coherent light pal. And Timmy just loves his new eye patch he got after cuddling with his buddy the wrong way. Now he gets to play Pirate all the time! Yar!

Re:Use a dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20498187)

You are trying too hard.

Re:Use a dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20502761)

The dogs sniff out skin cancer, not the kind of cancer you typically do blood tests for.

I don't know what the big deal is. What's so bad about the blood sample method? Getting blood drawn is nothing. Yes it's invasive but it's not like most people do it all that often.

"What's your sign?"... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20496699)

...always seems to work for me! ;)

Wow! How long before we have portable units? (1)

Jennifer York (1021509) | about 7 years ago | (#20496747)

It sure would be nice to have one of these, maybe they should be included with every box of Microwave Popcorn [] .

Sample Size (4, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 7 years ago | (#20496771)

The real advantage of this technique is that it allows measurement of a larger size sample. There is still an injection of the florescent label, but by scanning the body surface a much larger blood sample can be monitored which makes this method more sensitive - making detection at an early stage better.

Sharks (3, Funny)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | about 7 years ago | (#20496803)

Does the Laser come with its own shark?

Re:Sharks (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#20496989)

Does the Laser come with its own shark?

Only when surgical extraction is necessary.

Next step - zapping? (2, Interesting)

gregor-e (136142) | about 7 years ago | (#20496919)

Now, if only they could zap each metastatic cell that passes under their instrument, they'd be able to limit the spread (or, at least, limit those metastases that spend quite a while surfing the blood before finally lodging somewhere else).

Re:Next step - zapping? (3, Informative)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 7 years ago | (#20496985)

I was thinking the exact same thing, using something like a gamma knife. Gamma rays have a wavelength much smaller than cells, so you could use several beams to target individual cells. Each beam wouldn't be lethal, but when combined, they would kill the cell. There are techniques using femto-second lasers to release the laser energy at a specific depth. Now, all you need is a femto-second gamma ray laser...

Re:Next step - zapping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20497667)

Except that Gamma ray lasers take quite a lot of energy to trigger. Care to detonate an H-Bomb every time you want to zap some cells?

captcha: Fearsome. How does it do that?

Re:Next step - zapping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20500653)

Considering that a cancer cell isn't metastatic until it has attached itself to another area of the body from where it originated, what you are suggesting is impossible by definition.

Re:Next step - zapping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20503603)

The only thing worse than a tiresome pedant is a tiresome, inaccurate pedant.

my dog is better suited to detect cancer (3, Interesting)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 7 years ago | (#20497049)

There are people who are training hound dogs to detect cancer in people.

The dogs are better suited to the task than some million dollar laser beam. 20_040820_detectordogs.html []

Dogs are cheaper to train and maintain. And, they provide therapy for those who are proven positive.

It's win-win.

Re:my dog is better suited to detect cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20497337)

I never thought I'd live to see the day when dogs instinct for sniffing butts became viewed as a useful trait! Personally, I'd still prefer that "Old Cold-Nose" be locked in another room when I get out of the shower...

Re:my dog is better suited to detect cancer (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 years ago | (#20497345)

There are people who are training hound dogs to detect cancer in people.

The dogs are better suited to the task than some million dollar laser beam.
Yes, but only for cancers with outside access, like lung cancer (breath), prostate etc (urine), colon (fecal matter) etc.
There are lots of cancers that they can't detect.

Re:my dog is better suited to detect cancer (2, Interesting)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 7 years ago | (#20497959)

Not true.

the dogs have been able to successfully detect internal tumors months before a blood test on other systems.
Dogs have successfully detected kidney cancer as well.

Re:my dog is better suited to detect cancer (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 years ago | (#20514475)

the dogs have been able to successfully detect internal tumors months before a blood test on other systems.
Yes, internal organs which throw out garbage outside, all the digestive tract, yep.

Dogs have successfully detected kidney cancer as well.
Ahem. And kidneys are not connected to the outside world?

Heart, brain, bone cancer etc are out.

Re:my dog is better suited to detect cancer (1)

Gulthek (12570) | about 7 years ago | (#20497583)

Dogs are cheaper to train and maintain. And, they provide therapy for those who are proven positive.

Unless they hate dogs.

Re:my dog is better suited to detect cancer (1)

notclevernickname (1152517) | about 7 years ago | (#20498437)

Its been established that sharks have amazing olfactory perception. If we were able to train them like the dogs and attach the laser beams to their heads, we might have a winning frikkin combination. If not we could always try sea bass, although I think they have to be ill-tempered...

your dog is NOT better suited to detect cancer (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 7 years ago | (#20498541)

Dogs are cheaper to train and maintain.
Based on what analysis?
  • How much do they cost to train?
  • How much do they cost to feed?
  • How much does their yearly medical bills cost?

You can't just make a statement like that without any supporting facts.

Perhaps most importantly:
A) How much work can a cancer sniffing dog do per day?
B) How will that work compare to a machine that can give you a definitive answer about the number of cancer cells per xyz milliliters of blood?

So what I'm really trying to say, is that dogs are not an equivalent alternative. If you RTFA, you'd know that the researchers are excited about this machine because it will let them fine tune how much medication to give, based on the # of cancer cells in the blood. Dogs cannot provide that kind of service.

Re:my dog is better suited to detect cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20500215)

I don't get it.. I thought it was proven that humans had about the same level of sniffing sense than dogs did.. Dogs just track better because their nose is close to the ground. I smell BS

Re:my dog is better suited to detect cancer (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | about 7 years ago | (#20516169)

The cancer-sniffing dogs can detect some kinds of cancer, but not all kinds. This will be true of any detection method, including the laser method described above. If you want to a have a good chance of early detection, you need to employ as many methods as you can.

Excellent! (1)

jfroot (455025) | about 7 years ago | (#20497065)

One step closer to a working tricorder.

Re:Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20497541)

That was my first thought. I want it to make that cool whirring noise too.

This is a job for a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20497369)

pseudo code says: If Name == 'Dubya' Then Cancerous = 'Like a Cigarette'

Do we really need this? (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | about 7 years ago | (#20497595)

I guarantee this will be more expensive than a blood test.

Having had cancer (1)

Skiron (735617) | about 7 years ago | (#20497955)

Detecting it still needs the 'detection done'. Then if that is done, we still need a fix for all the various cancers that abound.

So, there is a new way to detect cancer - how many people here actually get tested for cancer at anytime?

My guess is ZERO

Don't lasers (1)

presidentbeef (779674) | about 7 years ago | (#20498379)

...cause cancer?

Re:Don't lasers (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | about 7 years ago | (#20500053)

Not in general. If a laser can cause cancer or not depends on the wavelength of light used. For any form of EM radiation to be able to cause cancer, its photons must have sufficient energy to ionise atoms and molecules it strikes. The energy of the photons depends on the wavelength ( i.e colour ) of the light in question. The higher the energy the more types of molecules and atoms may be ionised. In practise there are relatively few compounds that respond to light in the visible region (thou some do) and even fewer that respond to infra-red light. So basically, if the laser is likely to cause radiation damage ( which can increase the risk of cancer ) depends on its colour. An UV laser would certainly be a concern, visible would probably be fairly harmless unless exposure was very long and intense, and infra-red certainly wouldn't be much of an issue. Note, however, that even lasers that are unlikely to cause cancer can have other dangers if they have sufficient intensity. In particular, because your eye will focus a ray from a laser into a point at the retina, a laser with relatively low power could cause quite some damage to your vision. This is why commercial laser pointers have a limited output power so that they are unlikely to cause any damage before the eye has time to blink.

Re:Don't lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20500197)

Sure, they just make sure to scan with a powerful light-saber-grade laser. By the way, the test is always 100% positive!

Re:Don't lasers cause cancer? (1)

mbstone (457308) | about 7 years ago | (#20503317)

Not directly, but some lasers will light cigarettes....

drawback (1)

bzudo (1151979) | about 7 years ago | (#20498535)

the only drawback is that they use a cancer laser.

Things are looking up? (1)

elysiana (1152995) | about 7 years ago | (#20499429)

My dad recently passed away from pancreatic cancer that wasn't detected until it was too far advanced... it was previously diagnosed as a stomach ulcer and possibly gallstones, by several doctors, partly because the symptoms came on so fast. We talked to the surgeon later on to see what the word was on early detection of pancreatic cancer, and it sounds like at this point in time they have no real, easy way to detect it (unlike, say, breast cancer, which can often be caught by self-exam). News like this is good to hear - if it's easily done and relatively inexpensive, perhaps we can really start catching this early on. Making it part of a yearly physical would be great.

I'll admit I only skimmed, but I'm wondering if the cancer needs to be in the lymphatic system in order for it to be detected?

wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20499989)

where are they going to have to shine that laser to detect colon cancer?

Let me know (1)

Philosopher-Geek (970748) | about 7 years ago | (#20500005)

when they can detect cancer without sticking a hand up my butt, and I'll be happy. A laser would be fine, where a dog would definitely not....or would it?

Lip scan (1)

AlpineR (32307) | about 7 years ago | (#20500133)

A few months ago I had a lip scan to test a new method of screening for colon cancer. I developed colon cancer at an unusually young age, 31, and I'm going through genetic testing to see if my family members are at risk. One hereditary defect is polyposis, but I don't seem to have that. Another is called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).

We're doing blood and tissue screening at the cost of thousands of dollars. But some researchers believe that they can detect HNPCC simply by examining a patient's inner lip. It would make sense since it's the same kind of tissue as at the other end of the digestive track.

So they had me sit in a contraption to hold my head steady and then pull my lip down over a plastic ridge. They shined different wavelengths of light on my lip and recorded the reflections. Later they'll compare the results to my other tests to see if they are correlated.

I was under the impression that they were looking at the structure of blood vessels or the composition of the tissue. I wasn't injected with any labeling agent, so I don't think it's related to the Purdue research.

Re:Lip scan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20501601)


take a look at "the anti-inflammation zone" by dr. barry sears (phd, lipid researcher). he has a very interesting take on health and i've found that when i take his advice, i actually get the results he says i will get. he has some specific information on cancer in his book.

not everything he says can be quantified and evaluated, though. he also makes some pretty bold claims, then again, some of the anecdotal stories in his books and over at are amazing.

his approach is to manipulate your hormonal response to food allowing consistent glucose to be supplied to your brain throughout the day and he supplements with pharmaceutical grade fish oil in order to balance out one's aa/epa ration in a range with the healthiest populations on the planet.

i *highly* recommend going to, signing in, going to lifestyles and reading the testimonials there. you can research the success that the former heaviest man in the world has had on the zone diet - manuel uribe lost 400 lbs his first year and his experience is being chronicled by the discovery channel. robin took part in pbs scientific frontiers' weight loss study and lost 45 lbs in 6 months and listed the good feeling on the zone as her favorite part of the diet.

apparently, barry sears has personally worked with 29 people who have won gold medals while on the zone diet or a modified zone diet.

my experience isn't gold medalish, but it is pretty amazing. i first learned about the zone diet over 10 years ago when a nurse recommended it to me. she said it had enabled her to give up her pain killers and daily aspirin intake. i tried it and the results were great. i felt amazing, i lost body fat and my energy increased dramatically. the change was comparable to moving from a black and white tv to a color tv.

being in my early 40s, i realized it was time to get serious about my health and so i went on the zone full force last june. i'm down a net of 13.5 lbs. i've gained significant muscle mass since i started lifting weights about the same time - at least 2-3 lbs, maybe more. my cardio has exploded from dead tired after 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer to being able to do over 50 minutes without being too winded. my resting heart rate went from 68 to 59 in about 2 months. i exercise about 6 days a week and have plenty of energy left over. for the first time in my life, my abs's inner six pack is showing through at ~15% body fat (down from ~10% body fat just over 3 months ago).

the eating plan is moderate. you eat what you need every day and no more. you make adjustments based on your responses to what you eat. i don't weigh any food (i use the eyeball method), i'm rarely hungry, i feel great, my energy level is through the roof, i eat plenty of delicious lean meat and fruits (i do want to add more veggies to my routine, but that will come with time).

at nearly 5'11" and 178.5 lbs when i started the just over 3 months ago, i never imagined i would drop below 160 lbs while adding significant muscle mass. now that i've effortlessly lost 13.5 total lbs (2.5" off the waist and lost 4.5% off my total body fat - 20% to 15.5%) and i'm down to 165 lbs, the only question is if i can gain muscle fast enough in order to keep my weight above 160 lbs.

I don't think I can.

very few things in life are too good to be true, but the zone diet has been one of them in my life. i can't recommend this eating plan highly enough. it *is* that good and, in some cases, it helps fight against the consequences of cancer - which might interest you a bit.

i've personally seen the zone diet end several years of consistent acid reflux in exactly one day. poof! gone... never to return... until he went off the zone.

it is scientifically based - and your personal results will be where the rubber hits the road for you.

the weight loss is nice (and healthy!), but it is only a side effect. the zone is a *really* healthy diet.

good luck.

Intravital Flow Cytometry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20500891)

It's flow cytometry in vivo. The basic technology has already been developed, they're just using it in a new way. Normally, they'd have to draw blood then label the cells with fluorescently-tagged antibodies which would bind to the cancer cells. The cells would then be run through the machine where a laser shines at each cell and fluorescence is measured. The disadvantage of this is that it's invasive and you'd need a large volume to find the rare circulating tumor cells.

Their innovation is being able to do this inside the person by using multiphoton fluorescence (ideal for imaging through thick, living specimens like the skin). It's like they've converted the person into the flow cytometer. They inject the person with the label and the person's own circulatory system moves the cells past the laser. I wonder if they've tried multiple labels (testing for several different things).

Detecting cancer (1)

mrfantasy (63690) | about 7 years ago | (#20501343)

I heard that if your hand is bigger than your face you'll get cancer! Try it!

Dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20501997)

Pfft. Dogs can detect cancer [] .

A hell of a lot more cheaply, too.

Anything that helps (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 years ago | (#20502625)

That's great. Anything, any improvement that helps detect cancer(s) earlier is worth it's weight in gold (so to speak).

However, it won't do any good unless the insurance companies will cover it. I was sick for 4 to 5 months. I was running a mild fever continuously, felt miserable and was tired constantly. For months my doctor screwed around, because he knows the HMO won't approve a thorough test. I got the run around, "It must be a systemic infection, let's try this antibiotic." Then, "That didn't work, let's try this one." etc. He ran the limited blood tests that the HMO allowed, which showed nothing. Then one day I go to the emergency room because I'm having trouble breathing, where they do a simple x-ray and they come back with "Hey, there's a 2 1/2" mass pushing against your trachea." Insanity.

How about the millions of diabetics.... (1)

mbstone (457308) | about 7 years ago | (#20503297)

who have to pay $1/blood glucose test (~$100/mo) for consumable test strips. Would somebody please offer an X Prize for whomever invents a consumable-free method of testing blood sugars.

What if... (1)

Soiden (1029534) | about 7 years ago | (#20503991) get cancer because of this laser?

I endorse this product or service. (1)

Shag (3737) | about 7 years ago | (#20504823)

Needles = unconsciousness for me, and I don't thing something resembling a barcode scanner will have the same result. Now if they can just apply this to everything else doctors wanna stick me for...

X-Files (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20505045)

That's easy, all you need to do is have that X-Files ambulance driver smell you
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