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Thanks to nanotechnology, new ground is being made diagnosing and treating cancer. We all remember the Disney classic, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Well, nanotechnology is essentially the same concept; sizing down to a cellular scale to combat invasive duplicating cells, leaving normal functioning cells untouched. Let’s face it, the ability to provide site-specific treatment in comparison to other available options like chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, is greatly preferred in order to evade those tiresome side-effects of toxins being pumped into the body. Nanotechnology provides cancer patients with the care they need without compromising their otherwise healthy functioning bodies.

Every day a multitude of factors, both environmental and man-made, affect an individual’s health. Consequently, the number of cancer cases has risen significantly in recent years. The World Health Organization has already predicted a 57% increase in cancer diagnoses over the next two decades. But in an era of cutting edge technology and a swathe of futuristic apparatuses emerging in the medical field, oncology has witnessed a fundamental overhaul in the way cancer is perceived and eradicated. This is where nanotechnology comes into play, going beyond the capabilities of current treatments through tedious design.

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Whether the objective is to treat cancer cells with heat, release timed increments of specialized medication within cancer cells or combat those seemingly resilient cancer stem cells (CSCs), a slew of nanoparticles have been developed, awaiting their individualized cue to combat the many faces that represent this malignant beast. Nanotechnnology can even assist with existing treatments like chemotherapy, for example, by delivering chemical substances directly to the site of cancer rather than have those same chemicals ravage an entire body. These endeavors have proven to be exceedingly triumphant. Unfortunately, a few drawbacks remain including the cost associated with engineering these tiny super particles and the high levels of toxicity resulting as by-products of manufacturing them. But these challenges are merely obstacles waiting to be overcome as scientists continue to discover and understand cancer in ways that have yet to be discerned.

Similarly, engineers have found ways to apply specific strains of green and blue algae to the cancer fighting agenda through a process known as target therapy, competing with other emerging processes like nanoparticle-based treatments. Since these microscopic one-cell organisms, known as diatoms, already contain the elements of manufactured nanoparticles (silica and silicon dioxide), algae has proven vastly effective through target specific abilities. Once it’s spent, the algae is fully biodegradable. Though the basis of algae treatment is comparable to nanotechnology, algae can be easily manipulated to deliver various forms of treatment with relative ease unlike its manufactured counterpart.

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Still, early detection remains key. Nanotechnology’s ability to scan for pre-cancerous cells in new scanning and image contrasting processes have helped many individuals overcome their illness before metastasis sets in. Attaching metal oxides within nanoparticles to bind with cancer receptors has allowed imaging to achieve near flawless results thanks to nanotechnology’s exactness. For a few individuals, sometimes the clues are right in front of you. For several children who run risks of developing retinoblastoma, an aggressive form of eye cancer, sometimes looking for cancer is as easy as taking a photo with a smartphone.

As reported by The Verge, when using a flash, the photo will reveal a pupil glow, a sign that something is amiss. Several families have found this easy procedure a lifesaver as their children’s early diagnosis leads to a hasty and effective treatment. Other apps are available that bring focus to the flesh. MoleScope and SkinVision both work to identify any anomalies inhabiting the skin through simple procedures that balance easily with everyday life. By taking photos of moles or skin blemishes, individuals can get a speedy analysis through the apps’ featured scanning technologies, monitor and track its transformation and even share photos with medical specialists. Introducing simple medical practices to the mobile user proves that apps and smartphones are more than communication tools – they can add saving lives to their long list of functions.

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