Electric detection of lung cancer

Excerpt from the December 26, 1964 issue of Science News Letter

Lung cancer diagnosis Lung cancer can be diagnosed in ten minutes by an electrical skin resistance test …. The technician attaches one electrode to the patient’s leg and runs the other electrode, which is a small metal wheel, over specific skin areas. The electrical resistance of various skin sites is recorded by meters and mapped by the investigator on a drawing of the human body…. Lung cancer patients show four kinds of resistance patterns, all of them different from the normal. — Science News LetterDecember 26, 1964


While rates of lung cancer are declining in the United States as smoking rates decrease, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer-related death. Detecting lung cancer with skin electrodes never did catch on, though a 2000 study indicated that measuring the skin’s electrical resistance could potentially predict lung cancer prognosis. Screening is now conducted with low-dose CT scans, which use a small amount of radiation to get a clear image of the lungs.

Bethany was previously the staff writer at Science News for Students. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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