Tag Archives: Cancers

Technology: How AI Can Improve Diagnostics (GAO)

Each year, medical diagnosis errors affect the health of millions of Americans and cost billions of dollars. Machine learning technologies can help identify hidden or complex patterns in diagnostic data to detect diseases earlier and improve treatments.

Several machine learning (ML) technologies are available in the U.S. to assist with the diagnostic process. The resulting benefits include earlier detection of diseases; more consistent analysis of medical data; and increased access to care, particularly for underserved populations. GAO identified a variety of ML-based technologies for five selected diseases

  • Certain cancers,
  • Diabetic retinopathy,
  • Alzheimer’s disease,
  • Heart disease,
  • COVID-19

Most technologies relying on data from imaging such as x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, these ML technologies have generally not been widely adopted.

Read more

Skin Cancers: ABCDE’s Of Melanoma (Mayo Clinic)

Moles are a common skin growth, and most are harmless. But changes in moles and other pigmented patches may be the sign of skin cancer, particularly melanoma.

When it comes to early detection, just remember the ABCDEs.

“A” is for asymmetry.

“You want moles to be perfectly symmetrical, such that you could put a mirror right down the middle of it and the image would look the same,” says Dr. Catherine Degesys, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist.

“B” stands for border.

“You want a nice crisp edge to these pigmented lesions and no scalloped edges or indistinct edges,” says Dr. Degesys.

“C” is for color.

“In general, you want moles to be a homogenous color and not have multiple different pigmented areas,” Dr. Degesys adds.

“D” represents the mole’s diameter. Pigmented lesions being greater than 6 millimeters potentially need further evaluation.

“E” is probably the most important, and that corresponds with evolution, says Dr. Degesys.

“Any pigmented lesion or any moles that are changing are something that really needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist.”

COMMENTARY:

Melanoma is a devastating disease, and must be picked up early to give you any chance.

The memnomic A-B-C-D-E is a reminder of the things you must watch in a dark freckle, or nevus, in order to suspect melanoma. Symmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolution reminds you of things that will alert you.

A-B-C is also a good mnemonic when it comes to evaluating an unconscious person, in order to address the order in which to proceed. Here, it is Airway, Breathing and Circulation. If the airway is blocked, it doesn’t matter whether or not the person is breathing, or the heart is beating, because if you’re not able to move air in and out of the lungs, the breathing attempts and heartbeat will do no good. Secondly, if you’re not breathing, the heart pumping will do no good. Another memnomic is A-B-CPR.

The third memnomic has to do with psychology. Here, it is Affect, Behavior and Cognition. Most activities of the brain can be put into one of these three different areas.

I’m sure there must be more memnomics in a world such as ours, and if you know of any, I would appreciate knowing about them.

—Dr. C.

Diagnosis: The Early Signs Of Pancreatic Cancer

Skin Cancer: The 3 Main Types (Cleveland Clinic)

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The good news is, this disease is extremely treatable if caught early. Cleveland Clinic experts break down the 3 main types of skin cancer and how you can spot the signs of each.

Chapters: 0:00 Intro 0:24 What does skin cancer look like? 0:49 What are the signs of skin cancer? 0:59 What are the types of skin cancer? 1:06 What is basal cell carcinoma? 1:35 What is squamous cell carcinoma? 1:52 What is melanoma? 2:26 When should you talk to your doctor about skin cancer?

CANCERS: DIAGNOSING CARCINOID TUMORS

Cancer is a huge problem, since it is actually a collection of a lot of different diseases in different places, resulting from mutation of the genes and invasiveness as the common characteristic. All cancers are different.

Carcinoid tumor is a good illustration. These are so called neutoendocrine tumors. They are slow growing, and are usually not detected until they are quite advanced. They can be located in different organs such as the gastrointestinal tract and the lung.

In their vicinity they produce symptoms characteristic of the area; trouble swallowing, nausea, vomiting, constipation and abdominal pain for gastrointestinal carcinoid, and cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain for those located in the lung.

Many advanced cancers can produce weight loss, muscle pain and fatigue In addition to symptoms characteristic of their location. The special characteristic of carcinoid tumors is that they may secrete substances that produce diverse symptoms such as  flushing of the skin, sudden diarrhea and vomiting and, strangest of all, heart valve leakages.

Diagnosis of carcinoid tumors is often made by checking for serotonin or chromogranin-A in the blood, and 5-Hydroxy indolacetic acid ( 5-HIAA) in the urine, and locating the tumor with Imaging such as CT and MRI.

It is usually treated best for surgery, but cell surface somatostatin can be targeted for hormone therapy, and targeted radiotherapy with PRRT. It is very much to the advantage of the patient if she has a tumor with specific hormone or other marker that can be targeted for treatment, such as a breast cancer with estrogen receptors that can be targeted by tamoxifen.

Please check the accompanying mayo clinic article for more information.

—Dr. C.

Read more

INFECTION: OPPORTUNISTIC INVASIVE FUNGI EXPLAINED

Fungi are in the outside air, the inside air, and even the air of isolation units In hospitals. The normal human respiratory tract is able to breathe these fungi in, have them deposited on the mucous membrane surfaces and have no problem. The normal respiratory membranes, with their associated cleansing cilia and normal mucus production are able to sweep the invaders out without sustaining any harm.

Problems arise when the respiratory tract is functionally or structurally abnormal, such as in cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis and COPD. Immunocompromised conditions have been increasing in frequency with the improvement in medical care in recent years. Intravascular catheters and sensors can provide a resting place for pathogens including fungi, as can cavities, scars and other damage to the lung. The immune system may require suppression to accommodate an organ transplants or ameliorate autoimmune conditions.

Cancers, especially of the hematologic or lymphatic system, such as lymphomas, pose a definite problem. Severe burns and  malnutrition may weaken the immune system, as may Viral infections, especially AIDS, and more recently COVID-19. More subtle immune problems may arise with diabetes, Obesity, or even a lack of sleep and exercise.

These and other conditions give the fungal infections the OPPORTUNITY to invade the body, and a few dozen of the thousands of species of fungi proceed to do just that. Opportunistic fungi often have special features, depending upon the species. Most prefer the respiratory tract, and if they get in to the bloodstream can go to their favored spots.

Aspergillus, and coccidiomycosis , for instance, prefer the lung. Mucormycosis often involves the sinuses and eyes. Blastomycosis can involve bone. Sporothrix is often found infecting the skin.

Symptoms depend upon the area involved. Of course if it’s a respiratory tract, you have coughing, mucus production, sometimes shortness of breath. With the central nervous system you have headache and confusion. You can see the involvement in the skin.

The number of drugs available to fight fungal infection is fairly limited, and currently involves only three different classes. Many fungi are resistant to one or two of these classes, and can be problematic.
However, fungi do not as a rule spread through the air from person to person, and a true epidemic would be unlikely.

—Dr. C.

Cancers: What Is Multiple Myeloma? (Mayo Clinic)

Multiple myeloma is a relatively uncommon form of blood cancer that affects less than 1% of the U.S. population, according the American Cancer Society. People younger than 45 rarely get the disease, and it occurs more in older men than women. And your risk is doubled if you’re African American.