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New testing for lung cancer could improve treatment times

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

There are a number of ways people can develop lung cancer, but regardless of the methodology, catching it early is key to recovery. For some, the process of finding whether the disease is present has been arduous and painful, but doctors are researching new ways to find out if patients have the illness more quickly and effortlessly, while others pioneer better medication and treatment plans for those who do have it.

The BBC reported that clinicians in Northern Ireland are using new technology for cancer detection that makes it a same-day outpatient procedure. In the past, imaging and blood tests were necessary in order to get a full overview of the lung tissues, but the new device is comprised of a flexible telescope, allowing doctors to visually examine all the inner workings of the lung and give a definitive diagnosis. Called a bronchial endoscope, the source stated that the tool can take tissue samples for biopsy and expedite overall treatment. While other testing is still critical for diagnosing the exact kind and stage of cancer present, this procedure lets clinicians know quickly if further trials are necessary.

"The majority of patients that we see for this procedure have suspected lung cancer," said Terence McManus, a respiratory consultant who carries out these procedures. "It's a priority that these patients are investigated as quickly as possible so their treatment can commence."

Getting extra assistance
For those diagnosed with the illness, blood tests can assist doctors with determining if required medications are having the desired impact and help them adjust treatment accordingly. New research has also shown that some medicines are more effective than others in this process, making them better options for patients in need of immediate results.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center discovered that combining beta blockers with radiotherapy, a common method of treating various kinds of cancer, is particularly useful in improving lung cancer patients' conditions. The study uncovered a link between overall responsiveness to radiotherapy and taking prescription beta blockers, showing increased survival rates and better receptiveness to overall treatment plans. Scientists looked specifically at non-small cell lung cancer patients, those known for having a short lifespan after diagnosis, to see if these most serious cases would benefit from additional medication. The results evidenced a five-month average increase in lifespan for those taking the beta blocker pills.

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