Diagnostic screening 'may improve cancer knowledge'

Prostate cancer treatment may be more effective in the future due to a new technique that will enable doctors to more easily examine crucial cells found in the blood.

Scientists at the University of Cincinnati developed the system they call inertial microfluidics to easily indentify fragile prostate cancer cells. These rare circulating cells (CLCs) are released by tumours into the bloodstream and doctors use them as an indicator of the effectiveness of ongoing cancers treatments.

Complications had developed because CLCs are present in the blood in extremely low concentrations - about one in 100,000 - but the new method simply uses the cell's size to identify it.

"The flow rate and channel geometry are critical to the method. We need to get the flow rate right so that the cells will separate out," said the developers.

They hope this simple technique can become integrated into more diagnostic screening. 

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