'Digistain' technology offers revolution in detailed cancer diagnosis
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IMAGE: A traditional vegetable dye-stained biopsy (L) compared to a Digistain biopsy from the same sample (R). view more 

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New cutting edge technology can be used to grade cancer tumours, eradicating human subjectivity and ensuring patients get the right treatment.

A new imaging technology to grade tumour biopsies has been developed by a team of scientists led by the Department of Physics and the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London.

Publishing their results today in the journal Convergent Science Physical Oncology, they describe how their new method promises to significantly reduce the subjectivity and variability in grading the severity of cancers.

Nearly all cancers are still diagnosed by doctors taking a sample of the tumour, a so-called biopsy, then slicing it thinly and staining it with two vegetable dyes used for more than 100 years. They look at this ‘H+E stained’ sample under a microscope and then judge the severity of the disease by eye alone.

Life-changing treatment decisions have to be based on this ‘grading’ process, yet it is well known that different practitioners given the same slice will only agree on its grade about 70% of the time, resulting in an overtreatment problem.

The team’s

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