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Veronica J. James
Med Sci Monit 2003; 9(8): MT79-84
Background:Molecular structural changes in hair, skin and breast associated with breast cancer have been observed using synchrotron fibre diffraction. These results raised the possibility that such hair studies might be used as a non-invasive diagnostic marker for breast cancer. A series of double-blinded studies was undertaken to establish the specificity of such a tool. Hair samples from controls, patients with cancers of the breast and other sites including the colon were studied. An associated study of collagenous colon tissue was also undertaken.Material/Methods:Single hairs were used for the fibre diffraction study. Collagenous colon samples were dissected near the tumour and from the ends of the colon section. The protocols followed exactly the associated breast cancer studies.Results:A ring of radius 4.53I0.03 nm, superimposed on the patterns obtained for the controls, was observed in the diffraction patterns for the hair of all colon cancer patients. This radius is different from that observed for breast cancer. In the collagen tissue study, two discrete sets of additional rings are superimposed on the normal collagenous colon pattern, one for samples adjacent to the tumour and one for samples distal from the tumour. The latter revealed that tissue at the point of dissection was not always normal.Conclusions:Here we show that, since the sensitivity and specificity for the difference observed in the diffraction patterns of hair in colon cancer are both 100%, a fibre diffraction analysis could be a simple, non-invasive screening test for colon cancer.