The Future of Cancer Care: Medical Device Innovations That Are Changing the Landscape

Posted by Jim Sener on August 8, 2018 at 8:46 AM

As the second-leading cause of death both in the US and globally, cancer continues to be a constant, looming concern for public health worldwide.  

While advances in technology and research have seen the disease steadily decline since the early 1990’s, the American Cancer Society still estimates that an average of 1,700 Americans will die from some form of cancer every day in 2018 - over 600,000 by the end of the year.

GlobalData predicts that in 2018, nearly 190 new medical devices for cancer treatment will either enter or be approved for the market. As researchers and physicians continue to explore and innovate, technology is opening up a new world of speedy diagnostics and highly targeted treatments, making patient/doctor communication easier than ever and helping medical professionals radically improve their workflow.

Let’s explore some of the recent medical device innovations that are changing the future of cancer care.


In-vitro diagnostic devices that gather and analyze specimens from the human body are the leading type of medical device used in cancer diagnosis and consequential treatment. The popularity of this method reflects a growing emphasis on genetic testing and the use of highly targeted medication.

The process of using a medical device to match patients to targeted drug treatments is called Companion Diagnostics. The BRACAnalysis CDx  is one such device which tests for specific gene mutations that can figure in Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Syndrome. Another in-vitro device, the CyVek Analyzer, has capability to split a blood or tissue specimen into multiple biomarkers which are analyzed separately, rendering a more thorough and accurate test result. product innovation checklist


Innovations in medical imaging are also revolutionizing cancer care.

What one professor of oncology has called “the defining piece of equipment” in modern imaging,  a hybrid imaging scanner (PET-MR) functionally combines positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to provide much more sophisticated, highly detailed imaging and information than traditional scanners.  

Portable imaging is another growing area of innovation in early cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Medical technology company Hologic recently released the Viera portable breast ultrasound system, a hand-held device that can deliver high-resolution images wirelessly to smart devices and PAC systems in offices or surgical wards. The system allows radiologists to perform over 90% of interventional procedures, at any place and time they need to.  


Point-of-care (POC) testing -- conducted at the time and place of patient care, rather than at a later date in a laboratory-- is at the frontier of cancer diagnosis and treatment.  On-the-spot results from POC tests allow for physicians and patients to make quick decisions about treatment, without intermittent waiting periods of days or even weeks while specimens are analyzed in a lab.  

One developer in California has produced a device that allows patients to monitor their complete blood counts (CBC) from the comfort of their own homes -- and at less expense than would be incurred in traditional care. The device, which is currently moving through FDA clearance, involves nothing more than a simple finger prick and testing strip which is placed into the device for analysis and yields results in only one minute. Patients can then send the results directly to their oncologist using an app on their phone.  Another California company has developed a non-invasive skin-cancer diagnostic device that utilizes lasers to extract information from the skin and differentiate between cancerous and benign cells.

With countless lives at stake, innovation in cancer research is an ever-present necessity.  As scientists and engineers continue to learn how best to minimize the risks attached to product development by focussing on the needs of the patient rather than on more clunky, traditional methods of care, today’s newest and most revolutionary devices reflect the dawn of a more intuitive, specified approach to cancer treatment.

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