In the U.S., there is an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases for 2015, according to the American Cancer Society. However, many new advances in technology have made identifying the source of the cancer a little easier.
The majority of cancers are considered easy to detect, but in one in 20 cases the doctor cannot find the source of the cancer. This is known as cancer of unknown primary (CUP). There are an estimated 30,000 CUP cancer cases every year.
People diagnosed with CUP go through several tests to determine the source. The good news is that DTU Systems Biology researchers have developed a new computer program that may be able to find the source of the cancer quicker by analyzing a biopsy in just two days. The research from the newly developed cancer detection method was published in the journal BMC Medical Genomics.
The research team has combined computer science with genetics to create a new diagnostic technology that is being called TumorTracer. The system uses advanced self-learning computer algorithms that can identify the cancer source with an 85% accuracy rate by analyzing DNA mutations from metastasized cancer patients.
The DNA mutations are registered in TumorTracer, which can find the possible primary tumor location. The method has been extremely precise, and it has been tested on thousands of samples. Accuracy was tested on 1,669 public tumors of certain types, including a set of 24 specimens from nine lung cancer patients and a cohort of 91 breast metastases. It was found that tumors could be found with 85% accuracy rate across six primary sites and 69% across 10 primary cancer sites. It would also identify tumors with 95% certainty from cancer sites that were less certain.
The next step for TumorTracer is to use the computer program to correctly identify unknown locations of tumors. The researchers are optimistic that the cancer diagnostic method will be able to detect the free cancer cell source in a blood sample, which would help find the cancer and treat it faster.
There are also other cancer-detecting technologies being studied. For instance, a study published in the journal Gut earlier this year developed a breathalyzer used to detect stomach cancer and other stomach conditions. Also, University of Colorado researchers developed a portable breath test that detects lung cancer and COPD (chronic pulmonary obstructive disease). Other technologies have also been created to help detect breast, head, and neck cancer earlier.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Smith, S., “New Computer Program Can Accurately Locate Where Cancer Begins, Diagnoses It In 2 Days,” MedicalDaily web site, October 8, 2015; http://www.medicaldaily.com/new-computer-program-can-accurately-locate-where-cancer-begins-diagnoses-it-2-days-356446.
Marquad, A.M., et al., “TumorTracer: a method to identify the tissue of origin from the somatic mutations of a tumor specimen,” BMC Medical Genomics 2015; 8(1), doi: 10.1186/s12920-015-0130-0.
Bushak, L., “Cancer Symptoms: Scientists Develop New Technology To Diagnose Stomach Cancer Using Breathalyzer,” Medical Daily web site, April 13, 2015; http://www.medicaldaily.com/cancer-symptoms-scientists-develop-new-technology-diagnose-stomach-cancer-using-328996.
“Cancer Facts & Figures 2015,” American Cancer Society website; http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044552.pdf, last accessed October 9, 2015.
“Groundbreaking computer program diagnoses cancer in two days,” ScienceDaily web site, October 7, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151007084259.htm.