So Friday wrapped up my week in imaging, which was mostly getting the opportunity to see how tests I've heard of before were actually performed. It was neat, especially with some of the FISH stuff where they are working on being able to detect extremely low percentages of positive cells. But, by far, the coolest thing I saw was the process that allows them to count circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from patients with tumor metastasis.
It is one of those things I've never heard of before, and I don't think I'm alone in that. The patients come in approximately every six weeks and their levels of CTCs are counted. It allows their doctors to see how the patient is responding to treatment very quickly and to be able to track the extent of metastatic disease in the blood. They can even directly visualize tumor microemboli, as in they can count the number of cells in a microemboli. It was such a cool technology and I was able to see some sample data that really showed how effective it was in practice. I sat with the tech who has been the one to get the process up and running at Duke (it isn't a wide spread technology yet, there is one at Duke and then the next closest one is in Tennessee) with the results of a test up on the screen in front of us and he did his count of cells with me, quizzing me on which cells I thought were positive, negative, or borderline. It was a lot of fun.
It is a quick entry, I just wanted to get that down while I was thinking about it (I still have three things from autopsy I haven't written!). Some days technology just amazes me, I'm so lucky to be able to see things like this.