A new non-invasive test to aid in early detection of lung cancer may soon be available thanks to Israeli scientists. The test uses scanning-microscope imaging equipment developed by BioView, an Israeli company, and fluorescent DNA markers called FISH probes to analyze a patient’s sputum (phlegm). BioView licensed these markers from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston,Texas. If a certain percentage of the cells show abnormal fluorescent patterns, that indicates lung cancer.
BioView CEO Alan Schwebel explains: “The average life expectancy of lung cancer patients is only about 18 months, mainly because usually it’s found at a later stage. Early detection and subsequent treatment can increase life expectancy to five years or more.”
Smokers and others deemed at risk for lung cancer usually get a CT scan to look for nodules that could be malignant. Small ones are too hard to biopsy, so people must return for another CT scan every few months. This is problematic because it exposes the patient to more radiation and also allows the potential cancer to grow.
More than 250,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year and more than 160,000 lung-cancer patients die from the disease. The form of cancer detected by this new test, Non-small-cell lung carcinoma, accounts for 85 percent of all lung cancers.
Schwebel related that initial results from the trials are expected this year, but it’s already been shown that the test performs better than any existing non-invasive methods for aiding the early diagnosis of lung cancer. BioView was founded in 2000 by Dr. Opher Shapira and Yuval Harrari and has become the leader in the laboratory equipment market for cancer screening and monitoring.
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