This Is How You Catch Cancer Early

A new detection method shows promise.
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Olga Lexell
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A new detection method shows promise.

Cancer is not always simply diagnosed, especially not early enough to make it easily treatable. Cells multiply under our noses. Many cancer patients don't realize until it's too late, and they are receiving a formidable diagnosis.

Now there is a solution in development. Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has developed a life-changing new method of detection: a silicon photonic biosensor that uses light to read microRNA samples in urine. The fact that it can deliver results in 15 minutes is a key aspect. The research team has yet to test their device on a large scale, but if it proves to be successful, we are about to come one step closer to making cancer detection more attainable for a lot of people. 

The device, however, cannot detect all types of cancers. As of now, it has successfully detected bladder cancer. But it is not just a cancer detecting tool. The biosensor can also check for other health issues like heart diseases, making it for now the closest thing we have to Star Trek's medical tricorder.

So how much will a photonic biosensor cost? There's nothing like it on the market, making it hard to say for sure. The potential cost may exclude many people who need its help the most. Insurance companies haven't been too kind to cancer patients in the past, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. But who are we to put a price on life?