Scientists develop device to monitor tumor growth under the skin

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Researchers believe their new technology can provide a new way to test potential cancer drugs, and that may eventually impact cancer treatment in the future. Over the past few years, wearable health monitoring devicesTrusted Source have become very mainstream. Although smartwatches that monitor your daily activity and heart rate are more commonplace, researchers have developed wearable devices that track glucose levels, breathing ratesTrusted Source, and epileptic seizuresTrusted Source.

Now, researchers from Stanford University have created a small wearable device capable of measuring size changes in cancerous tumors under the skin. A study testing this new device via a mouse model was recently published in the journal Science Advances. When cells in your body’s tissues divide and grow more than they should, a tumor may form. Not all tumors are cancerous. A noncancerous tumor is called a benign tumor and a cancerous tumor is called a malignant tumor.

During cancer diagnosis, a doctor will measure the size of the tumor. The doctor will then continue to measure tumor size during the course of cancer treatmentTrusted Source to monitor whether the tumor grows or shrinks. Doctors also use tumor size to help determine what stageTrusted Source the cancer is in. Traditionally, medical professionals use diagnostic imagingTrusted Source, such as x-rays, CT (computed tomography), or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans to determine the size of a tumor inside the body. A doctor may also use a caliperTrusted Source to measure a tumor that is on top of or right below the skin. Measuring tumor size is also central for the research of novel cancer treatments by assessing the efficacy of potential cancer therapeutics in animal models.

“Current methods for detecting tumor progression or regression, such as caliper or imaging-based measurements, require significant human intervention and also have limitations in their time- and length-scale dimensions,” Dr. Alex Abramson, first author of this study, assistant professor in the chemical and biomolecular engineering department at The Georgia Institute of Technology, and a recent post-doc in the lab of Zhenan Bao at the Stanford School of Engineering, explained to Medical News Today.

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