A blood test that detects one cancer cell among 1 billion healthy cells could cut back on the need for biopsies during cancer treatment.
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Female Speaker: John Shea suffers from both colon and prostate cancers. Going through chemotherapy is tough enough, but John says the biopsies for his prostate cancer were the worst part. John Shea: I found it very painful. They had to take, I think it was 12 cultures, and it was like they took a Taser gun. Female Speaker: Doctors are testing a circulating tumor cell machine that could make biopsies a thing of the past. John Shea: Every time I came, they take a blood sample. Female Speaker: A tablespoon of John's blood is filtered through the machine and placed onto a genetically-engineered chip about the size of a business card. The chip holds an antibody that traps abnormal cells. Dr. Richard Lee: The chip itself is a breakthrough in engineering. Female Speaker: Within six hours the machine analyzes the blood and can detect one cancer cell among one billion healthy blood cells. Dr. Richard Lee: We would hope that we would be able to perhaps eliminate the invasive part. Female Speaker: Routine blood tests tell doctors if John's chemo is working or if they need to be more aggressive; the same as biopsies, minus the discomfort. John Shea: I wouldn't want to go through another one again. Female Speaker: Taking some of the pain out of fighting cancer. I am Melissa Medalie reporting.