By Herb Kimble.
Finding a cure for cancer isn’t necessarily hard, because there are only so many ways to go about destroying cancer. The trouble comes from actually detecting the disease early enough to fight it, which is why it’s difficult to cure cancer completely for the time being.
Science has managed to make some progress with regards to detecting cancer cells, specifically through the use of fluorescent probes. These probes are microscopic, and they are injected into a sample of blood. They are designed to “light up” through microscopes if they detect cancerous cells. The same technique is also applied to malaria diagnoses.
When one is dealing with deadly disease, time is of the essence. Lab tests can take weeks to complete, and do not always guarantee 100% accuracy. Cancer treatments are long and arduous, not the kind of thing a patient wants to be subjected to based on false positives.
The drawback to this process is that the bio-chemicals used to identify the cancerous cells can damage the cells, making it difficult or impossible to use them for future analysis. Cancer cells can also look like other cells in the body, so accuracy is dependent on whether the cells contain the characteristic a probe is programmed to look for.
Science is still rather limited on this front, but the probes represent a step in the right direction. If doctors can reliably detect trace amount of cancer cells in a patient’s blood stream, treatment can begin much earlier than ever.