Technology has now made it possible for computers to not only detect cancer in a patient’s body but to pinpoint where it is located. This information is achieved from a blood sample taken from the patient. Genome Biology published the research on this program in their journal.
The DNA from cancer cells ends up in the bloodstream during its earliest stages. The program looks for specific molecular patterns in the blood sample to see if cancer DNA exists. The program compares the patterns located in the sample against tumor epigenetics from other cancer types collected to determine if the sample contains cancer cells. This technology is allowing for a unique chance of early detection for quicker and possibly more successful treatment.
Professor Jasmine Zhou is the co-lead in this research. She is with the University of California at Los Angeles where she has helped in the creation of this non-invasive method of detecting cancer in patients. The computer-driven program has been designed to detect cancer as well as identify the form of cancer present. This technology is still being advanced and will need further validation, but is promising to be one of the most significant benefits to people with cancer.
Testing of this program consisted using the new technology against two other methods. There were twenty-nine blood samples taken from liver cancer patients. Also taken were twelve samples from patients with lung cancer and five samples from breast cancer patients. Each test was conducted ten times to ensure results were accurate. The error rates on the two optional methods were much higher than the error rate with the new computer program designed by Professor Zhou and her team.
Professor Zhou states the results of the test were evaluated on only those three types of cancer. These types of cancer were chosen for the test to show how the program will work against varying forms of cancer. If the kind of cancer a patient is developing has a tumor in a well-circulated organ such as the liver or lungs; then the easier it will be for the program to pick up the DNA from the blood sample. Organs such as the breasts are not as well circulated and make detection more difficult as the DNA is not flowing as freely in the bloodstream.