(Natural News) British researchers have developed a new imaging technology for analyzing tumor biopsies. Furthermore, they claim their Digistain technology enjoys greater reliability compared to subjective diagnoses by human health professionals, according to an article in ScienceDaily.
The Imperial College London (Imperial) research team promised that their new method can reduce the subjectivity and variability often encountered when grading the current stage of a cancer. They published their findings in the journal Convergent Science Physical Oncology.
The biopsy procedure has been used to diagnose cancers for more than a century. In a biopsy, a sample of the tumor is taken, cut into thin slices, and stained with vegetable dyes.
Specialists view this H+E stained sample with a microscope; they're meant to judge the severity of the cancer through visual observation.
This "grading" process serves as the primary basis for doctors to decide on critical treatments that could upend the lives of patients and their families. However, health practitioners who study the same slice arrived at the same analysis only around 70 percent of the time.
These conflicting subjective observations could result in over-treatment of patients. (Related: Another study finds Vitamin D reduces risk of cancer – by 20% or more.)
Digistain eliminates subjective human judgment from cancer diagnosis
In order to reduce subjectivity during tumor biopsies, the Imperial team developed Digistain index technology. It uses mid-infrared light to map out the biological markers for cancer in the tissue slice.
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The most important biomarker is the nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratio (NC ratio). It can be found in many types of cancer.
"Our machine gives a quantitative Digistain index (DI) score, corresponding to the NCR, and this study shows that it is an extremely reliable indicator of the degree of progression of the disease," asserted Chris Phillips, the study's lead author and a professor at Imperial's Department of Physics.