Breast cancer has traditionally been difficult for doctors to diagnose, as current screening methods can identify lumps, but cannot always indicate which ones are cancerous. Breast cancer risk is higher for women aged over 50, with regular screening recommended.
Now researchers from the University of Michigan have created a pill which “lights up” cancerous tumours. This means that dangerous growths could be easily identified with the extra help of an infrared light.
“The oral tablet contains an imaging agent that selectively binds to cancer cells or blood vessels that are unique to tumours”, Australian Associated Press reported. “Once the agent has bound to the cancerous cells, the dye fluoresces under near-infrared light”.
So far, tests on mice have been able to detect cancer tumours 2cm deep into the body. The picture quality is relatively clear, allowing for cancer risks to be simply diagnosed. The University of Michigan will now go ahead with developing a pill for human consumption.
“If successful, the new technique could benefit women with ‘dense’ breast tissue whose mammograms are typically more difficult to read”, Australian Associated Press reported. This could also make breast cancer screening accessible to even more Aussie women.