Could this new laser test replace breast cancer biopsies?

2013 Research
Regular readers will know about our ten year campaign to expose the dangers of screening mammography. In our view the myth of success for mammography along with vested and financial interests has simply held back the development of safer, more accurate alternatives, putting women’s lives at risk. Our argument is that the coming blood tests might have been with us years ago with the right funding. 


Part of the problem is that when screening shows a potential problem, a biopsy is used to determine the truth. Women spend a nervous week waiting for the results. Even then, about a third of women go on to have unnecessary and dangerous treatment. How can this be?


Right on cue it seems an instant laser test for breast cancer is now being developed by scientists and it is claimed this will quickly determining whether a suspicious lump is cancerous. It will improve accuracy and cut cost for the NHS.


Developed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council in Oxfordshire, the technique uses a laser to pinpoint dangerous changes without breaking the skin.
Carried out at the same time as the mammogram, the test would remove the need for a second hospital appointment, and give women an instant result.


The test involves shining a laser on the suspicious area and analysing the reflected light. The pattern and colour of the light that is bounced back depends on the chemical composition of the breast – with cancerous lumps producing a different ‘signature’ to benign ones. To date, tests have used pork (!) and have shown ‘promising results’.


Scientist Marleen Kerssens, who proved that the so-called Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy, or SORS, technique could be used to detect if a lump is malignant or benign, said: ‘It is an exciting field of research and translation of the SORS technique to a clinical setting has the potential to reduce the amount of false positives and therefore reduce patient anxiety.’ 


2013 Research
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