Infrared spectroscopy — used to identify and study chemicals — used in blood tests could potentially diagnose lymphoma and melanoma, a new study found.
Researchers at Georgia State University used the technique to analyze blood samples from mice with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and melanoma and found that it was a reliable way to detect changes to the cells caused by the two types of cancer.
“Our final goal is to say we can use this infrared technique to identify various diseases,” lead author of the study, Unil Perera, told the Georgia State University News Hub. “This study shows infrared spectroscopy can identify cancer. Right now, when you go to the doctor, they do blood tests for sugar and several other things, but not for serious diseases like cancer and colitis. If you are a healthy person, there is a range that is normal. One day, we hope that even these serious diseases can be rapidly screened.”
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — which accounts for 4.3% of new cancer cases in the U.S. — is a cancer of the immune system and subcutaneous melanoma – up nearly 7% over the last decade among fair-skinned populations — is a deadly form of skin cancer. The current biopsy practices for each cancer are time-consuming, expensive and invasive, forcing many to opt out of pre-cancer screenings.
In the study, blood samples healthy mice and from mice with the two cancers were taken and teste with the infrared spectroscopy and certain biomarkers representative of the diseases were displayed for the cancerous rodents. The study says that these findings are applicable to humans because mice and people have some chemicals and biomarkers in common.
The researchers believe that their findings could be used as a way to track changes in human blood samples from infancy to be tracked over the course of a lifetime so doctors and their patients can be made aware of at least these two types of cancers after simple blood tests during regular checkups.