Scientists are working hard on a test that would instantly test for breast cancer. The idea is that by quickly figuring out whether a lump is cancerous or not women will be spared a lot of worry and time. This will also help to reduce how much NHS has to pay every year for breast cancer testing.
Over 1.5 million women in Britain have mammograms every year. When a mammogram reveals something abnormal then a patient will have cells withdrawn for a biopsy by a needle. About 90% of these test results end up coming negative.
In contrast, the Oxfordshire Science and Technology Facilities Council is utilizing a laser that is able to point out dangerous changes in the skin without actually ever breaking through it. The laser is used at the same time that the mammogram is performed and removes the excess wait for a second hospital appointment for a biopsy. It also saves many women from the stress that comes with a biopsy.
University of Exeter lead scientist, Nicholas Stone, stated that this technique could help about 75,000 women a year that typically have to return for new biopsies. He added it will save a lot of anxiety.
The laser is aimed at any area that is suspicious and then reflected light is analysed. Depending on the chemical and cellular composition that is in the breast, the colour and patterns change. There is a certain pattern that cancerous lumps show which is a signature cue that something is wrong.
So far the laser has been tested only on pork, but the results have been accurate and soon tests on human breast tissue are set to begin. It will be a decade however before the test is used in hospitals if it is found to be effective.