New technology now allows doctors to go beyond what can be seen through a microscope when it comes to diagnosing cancer.
The FDA, in April, approved digital pathology or whole-slide imaging for use in primary cancer diagnosis.
Mike Minshall was told he had two months to live. But he got a second opinion. With digital pathology, doctors say they were able to more accurately stage his type of cancer.
“Called a month or so later and was told there was no cancer, so I was happy and smiling. That was the diagnosis I wanted to hear,” said Mike Minshall.
For decades, tumor cells were placed on glass slides for examination under a microscope. Getting them processed and mailed for review by specialists could take days, even weeks.
“With digital pathology, you take those same glass slides and you digitize them and create millions of pixels, converting them into a large image,” said Dr. Anil Parwani, Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
The digital images are far easier to store, share and access. And a diagnosis can be done in hours, not weeks. They also allow doctors to more accurately stage and grade specific types of cancer – something Mike can appreciate – now that he’s gotten an accurate diagnosis – he is cancer-free.
The next step for researchers is to digitize thousands of slides going back five years.