A new credit card-sized device could analyze a biopsy and help diagnose pancreatic cancer in a matter of minutes.
Pancreatic cancer is a particularly devastating disease. At least 94 percent of patients will die within five years, and in 2013 it was ranked as one of the top 10 deadliest cancers.
Routine screenings for breast, colon, and lung cancers have improved treatment and outcomes for patients with these diseases, largely because the cancer can be detected early.
But because little is known about how pancreatic cancer behaves, patients often receive a diagnosis when it’s already too late.
A new low-cost device could help pathologists diagnose pancreatic cancer earlier and faster. The prototype can perform the basic steps for processing a biopsy, relying on fluid transport instead of human hands to process the tissue.
“This new process is expected to help the pathologist make a more rapid diagnosis and be able to determine more accurately how invasive the cancer has become, leading to improved prognosis,” says Eric Seibel, research professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Human Photonics Laboratory at the University of Washington.
Seibel and colleagues presented their initial results this month at the SPIE Photonics West conference and recently filed a patent for this first-generation device and future technology advancements.