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New cancer imaging technique tested

12 April 2016 09:42

A new cancer imaging technique is being tested

A new cancer imaging technique is being tested

A new imaging technique has been used on a European cancer patient for the first time.

It is hoped the use of the technique will ultimately help doctors to tell whether a drug is working on a patient within a couple of days of their treatment starting.

Rapid scan

A rapid scan was conducted on the patient as part of a metabolic imaging study at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Explaining the potential of the new innovation, Dr Ferdia Gallagher, joint lead of the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award-funded study, said it could speed up existing processes.

Dr Gallagher said: "This new technique could potentially mean that doctors will find out much more quickly if a treatment is working for their patient instead of waiting to see if a tumour shrinks."

Molecular changes can be mapped out using the new technique, through the breakdown product of glucose called pyruvate.

It is thought that it could boost the monitoring of treatments and create new ways of actually detecting cancer.

Holiday plans

For cancer patients hoping to take holidays as part of their recovery from illness, specialist travel insurance could be available. Cancer travel insurance can cover things such as medical expenses.

How the technique works

In the new technique, a non-radioactive form of carbon is used to label the pyruvate. This means it then becomes around 10,000 times more likely to appear during a magnetic resonance imaging scan.

After being injected into a patient, the pyruvate is tracked as it moves around the person's body.

The scan enables health professionals to look at how fast pyruvate is broken down by cancer cells.

So far, a wide range of cancers and patients have been involved in the study. The European test represented the first to take place outside of North America.