Here are two welcome reports from Medical News Today:
16 Jul 2006
A new blood test is able to correctly predict non-small-cell lung cancer in patients years before any CT scan can detect it, say researchers from the University of Kentucky, USA. The test identifies human immune response to tumors.
Non-small-cell lung cancer patients have a 40% chance of living for five years or more after diagnosis. 50% of patients die within the first year. It is the most common lung cancer.
If further studies confirm its reliability, this will become the first blood test to predict cancer since the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test.
You can read about this research in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
Lung cancer kills more people around the world than any other cancer. 10 million new lung cancer diagnoses are made each year. Over three quarters of all lung-cancer patients are/were long-term regular smokers.
At the moment the most common way of diagnosing lung-cancer is with a CT Scan (computed tomography). However, CT scans are not completely accurate and patients often have to have a piece of the lump in their lung extracted for further tests – they have to have a biopsy. Biopsies for lung cancer can be painful. It is common for the biopsy test to find there was no cancer at all.
The biggest problem with lung cancer survival is that many patients are diagnosed when the cancer is well advanced.
This new blood test has an accuracy rate of at least 90% among people who have lung cancer and an extremely low false positive rate, say the researchers. In other words, unlike CT scans, this blood test does not commonly indicate lung cancer when it is not there.
In this study the researchers used blood samples from lung cancer patients years before they had been diagnosed. The test was surprisingly accurate in predicting lung cancer.
According to Dr. Zhong, lead researcher, and team, lung cancer can be present three to five years before reaching the conventional size limits of radiographic detection.
As with most cancers, the earlier it can be detected, the easier it is to cure the patient.
16 Jul 2006
A multi-institutional team of researchers has found that people with long-standing, severe paralysis can generate signals in the area of the brain responsible for voluntary movement and these signals can be detected, recorded, routed out of the brain to a computer and converted into actions — enabling a paralyzed patient to perform basic tasks.
In the 13 July 2006 issue of Nature, the researchers presented the first published results from the initial participants in a clinical trial of the BrainGate Neural Interface System, a “neuromotor prosthesis” developed by Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, Inc., of Foxborough, Mass.
The first patient, Matthew Nagle, a 25-year-old Massachusetts man with a severe spinal cord injury, has been paralyzed from the neck down since 2001. After having the BrainGate sensor implanted on the surface of his brain at Rhode Island Hospital in June 2004, he learned to control a computer cursor simply by thinking about moving it…. [Read the rest.]
As always, it is worth noting that all such advances are products not of faith, nor of feelings, but of reason: man’s only means of knowledge.