New Technology to Improve Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Technological advancements in the field of health are amazing. It is a man-made miracle which helps the mankind to identify the health related symptoms in advance and take precautionary measures to extend human life span. Detecting cancer cells in advance is very much essential for treatment and recovery. Cancer is a deadliest weapon which leads human beings to a slow death. In the area of lung cancer, radiologists so far were using a method called Recist for diagnosing and identifying lung cancer. The other methods used for diagnosing lung cancer are physical examination, chest X-ray, CT scan, CAT scan, MRI scan, PET scan etc. Even bone scans, sputum cytology, bronchoscopy, needle biopsy, thoracentesis, blood tests are used for diagnosing and detecting lung cancer depending upon the intensity and nature of the problem.

Out of all these, the method widely used so far is Recist. In this method, they measure the widths of potential lung nodules which are largest and cancerous by using a two-dimensional computer screen. When this method is followed, it will generally take at least a few months to detect the lung nodules that are cancerous to determine the seriousness of the problem and start treatment. But since it was the only reliable and better method available, it was widely used so far. Recently, the research team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have come out with a method which is three-dimensional called Volumetrics to measure the nodules in 3D. Volumetrics helps in identifying the changes in volume more precisely than done previously. This will tremendously reduce the diagnosis time from six months to four weeks.

In the words of Zachary Levine, lead in the research team, volumetrics will allow to notice the change in the volume which is ten times smaller when compared to Recist, and will enable to notice the change which is life-threatening in a following scan after a few weeks instead of months. Also Zachary Levine opines that volumetric method may not work in more complicated cases since the research is only in the beginning stage but still it is an important turning point in the diagnosis of lung cancer. The research team has also explored the ways to improve the accuracy rate of the computed tomography (CT) scans. The CT scans includes a collection of views of different X-ray taken from different angles. It produces images that are cross sectional from the human body. The research team tried to determine the best method which is to create a reference set of object that will replicate lung tumours.

The research team were able to measure the ellipsoids and 283 polymer-silicate of precise volume were identified. The volumes resembled pills which are between the ranges 4 to 11 mm in diameter. Then they enclosed it in a foam rubber and placed in racks which are in layers. When looked through the CT, the foam appears to be transparent, the denser replicates similar to tumours, the volumetric method captures the changes in volume precisely enabling the detection in less complicated cases. The research team also have warned that the growth of the cancer cells would be in strange shapes which may not replicate the elliptical pills. In that case, it will be very difficult to diagnose.

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