Tumor Detecting App: Medicine's Next Big Thing?

FRESNO, Calif.

We all have our favorite apps but you'll never be able to get this one, but you might want your doctor to have it.

"We consider this actually to be one of the world's smallest cancer diagnostic systems," Cesar M. Castro, M.D., a physician investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, told Ivanhoe.

Developed by doctor Cesar Castro and a team of researchers at Mass General Hospital, a mini nuclear magnetic resonance machine or NMR, tests tumor cells and is operated by smartphone and tablet software that interprets the information. It's designed to be easy-to-use and accurate for clinicians.

"At the push of a button, it essentially generates data without any wiggle room for subjectivity," Dr. Castro said.

If you spot a suspicious lump, Doctor Castro says you normally get a biopsy then wait three to seven days to find out if it's cancerous. With this, biopsy results only take 60 minutes!

"So, you can imagine that that could translate into just, not only reducing anxiety, but also increasing the efficiency," Dr. Castro said.

The small system requires a small amount of tissue for testing, and so far, it can identify up to 12 cancer markers.

"This really kind of speaks to the power of looking at multiple cancer markers because there is no one universal cancer marker," Dr. Castro said.

In one study, it correctly diagnosed 48 out of 50 suspicious masses as cancerous or non-cancerous. In a subsequent test, it got 20 out of 20 right.

Castro says the inexpensive invention could mean lower cancer testing costs for patients. A touch screen tumor analyzing tool that could change the way you think about what your phone and tablet can do.

The components of the tumor diagnosing device only cost about two-hundred dollars. Doctor Castro would like to see it in rural and community hospitals that can't afford expensive medical equipment. The machine is still being tested, and it could be five to ten years before it's available for widespread use.

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