Saturday, December 08, 2018

Aussies develop a new cancer early-detection test; play professional sports and maybe risk losing a leg?

Jacob Passy in MarketWatch reports that researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have developed a new cancer screening test based on certain specific DNA changes in cells.   The test is based on the way certain DNA fragments stick to (or are adsorbed by) heavy noble metals, especially gold.

It would be unlikely that any one test could detect all possible cancers (or that any one treatment could cure all of them).  Some reports, as this article, are skeptical.

The test works very differently from Jack Andraka’s, which uses nanotubes, but which still has a technique that might detect multiple kinds of carcinomas.

By the way, the strategy of detecting cancers with early detection in older people – seniors – might be mitigated by the social support systems for radical treatments.  There are good questions as to whether everyone needs general anesthesia for a colonoscopy often, or whether sigmoidoscopies still catch most problems and are much simpler – or whether swallowing a tiny camera could be a simpler test.  There are good questions as to what to do in a procedure if something is found.  As it stands now, I expect to do this in January.

There has been some media attention to the apparently compound double leg fracture of Washington Redskin’s quarterback Alex Smith, which may end his career.  The injury seems to have had something to do with the leg getting caught in the turf during a sack.  But the idea of an infection, whether introduced by the wound itself or later in the surgery, is particularly gruesome. 

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