The new cancer cell detection device, whose development was announced on Monday by Johnson & Johnson and its inventors from Massachusetts General Hospital , could change the way doctors test for and treat cancer.
Today mammograms, colonoscopies, etc are the only, ways that we have to screen for a variety of different cancers. The hope is that this new device, which can find one cancer cell among millions of healthy cells, will bring better screening procedure for these deadly diseases.
“There’s a lot of potential here, and that’s why there’s a lot of excitement,” said Dr. Mark Kris, lung cancer chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Sloan-Kettering is another one of the four cancer centers which will be studying the test this year.
Presently, many cancers are diagnosed through needle biopsies which often do not give a large enough sample to determine the biochemical pathways or the genes that control the tumor’s unimpeded growth. Alternatively, the sample may no longer be available when the patient gets to the specialist who will prescribe his treatment.
This new tool actually captures the cancer cell, which is then available for study. Doctors can easily follow a patient’s response to drug and/or radiation therapy by looking for even just one cell, in the blood. Dr. Haber of Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the developers of this test said, “If you could find out quickly, ‘this drug is working, stay on it,’ or ‘this drug is not working, try something else,’ that would be huge.”
Medical products giant Johnson & Johnson is planning to announce today that they, together with researchers in Boston, are planning on marketing a test so sensitive that it can detect the presence of just one cancer cell among a billion normal cells. Four large cancer research centers are planning on beginning studies to assess the usefulness and accuracy of the test and will be using it on an experimental basis this coming year.
According to many doctors, having a stray cancer cell lurking in your blood is an indication that the tumor that you already have, but which has gone un-diagnosed until now, has spread or is getting ready to spread. Doctors believe that having such a test on hand can dramatically alter the way care is delivered to patients. A large number of cancer types, including breast, prostate, colon and lung cancers can be detected with this new test .
Dr. Daniel Haber, the chief of the cancer center at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the inventors of the test explained its usefulness. “This is like a liquid biopsy which avoids painful tissue sampling and may give a better way to monitor patients than periodic imaging scans.”
The identification of ‘biomarkers,’ chemical compounds which are found in our bodies, may now be possible following a recent discover of Purdue University. Researchers have developed a breath-analysis technology which is at least one hundred times better than those used previously. The new technology is able to detect biomarkers in the parts per billion to parts per million range, which is much faster than previous techniques.
“We are talking about creating an inexpensive, rapid way of collecting diagnostic information about a patient. It might say ‘there is a certain percentage that you are metabolizing a specific compound indicative of this type of cancer,’ and then additional, more complex tests could be conducted to confirm the diagnosis,” explained Carlos Martinez, an assistant professor at Purdue.
Winter Skin Care
The cold, clear days of winter may bring a rosy glow to the cheeks, but they also cause a tight dryness of the skin of the face, hands and legs. For some people the skin is just tight and itchy, while for others it may become flakey or cracked.
“As soon as you turn the heat on indoors, the skin starts to dry out,” Bonnie LaPlante, and esthetician with the Canyon Ranch Resort explains. “it doesn’t matter if you heat your home using oil, wood or electricity. The skin gets dry.” If you are familiar with this condition, you may want to consult a specialist. If the condition is persistent, a doctor may be able to provide you with an effective, medicated treatment. If your condition does not require a physician, you may want to try to moisturize more often. For the winter months, use a moisturizer that is oil-based, as opposed to water-based. For your face, be sure to choose an oil that is “nonclogging,” to avoid acne and clogged pores. Sunscreen is also very important during the winter months, as the glare from the snow, and even UV rays that are trapped below the clouds, can damage your skin. Don’t underestimate the sun’s power during the winter. You should also try to exfoliate your skin at least twice a week. Use a loofah or something similar to remove dead skin cells and enable new ones to grow. Be sure to drink lots of water. During the winter, people often forget the importance of drinking water, and get dehydrated. This has a direct effect on a person’s health.
Anemia is a relatively common condition, one which causes weakness and fatigue due to lack of iron in the blood. There are other, less common types of anemia as well, such as pernicious anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency.
This deficiency can be caused by lack of the vitamin in the diet, or the inability of the body to absorb it once it is consumed. Vegans and vegetarians are the most likely to lack this vitamin, as it is found primarily in animal products such as meat and eggs. The vitamin is water soluble, and must be ingested daily in order to avoid deficiency. When the body is unable to absorb the vitamin, it is often a result of a condition in the small intestine, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or surgery. Intrinsic factor, a protein produced by the stomach, is necessary for the absorption of the vitamin. A lack of this protein may be a result of a surgical procedure, an autoimmune response or a hereditary inability to produce it.
Vitamin B12 is involved in many processes in the body, mainly the production of red blood cells. A lack of red blood cells as a result of B12 deficiency can lead to a serious complication called pernicious anemia. The most common symptoms of vitamin b12 deficiency include very pale skin, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, a sore or tingly tongue, cold extremities and heart palpitations. The deficiency can also affect the gastrointestinal tract and result in an enlarged liver, nausea, heartburn, abdominal bloating, loss of appetite and weight loss. If the condition is left untreated, it can result in nerve damage as well, which can be identified by numbness and tingling in the extremities, unsteadiness, confusion, depression, memory loss and dementia.