Two of the most commonly asked questions asked of your physician are “Do I have cancer?” and, “How do I know I am cured of cancer?” For the first time the same test may be able to answer both.
The holy grail of cancer diagnostics and therapeutics in the second decade of the twenty-first century is the detection of the first, or last, cancer cell. For years oncologists have developed therapies that have allowed patients to achieve seeming disappearance of their disease, only to have it return. How can we tell the cancer is cured? Can we use this technology to tell when cancer first develops?
The answer may be close at hand. A partnership between Veridex, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, and the Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School) is closing in on that needle in a haystack. Scientists have developed new strategies to detect that needle – a single cancer cell in the bloodstream among billions of normal cells.