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Hair Sample May Provide Breast Cancer Diagnosis

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Hair from women with breast cancer can be distinguished from hair obtained from women without the disease, researchers in Australia report.

When hair is exposed to X-rays, the radiation is diffracted in a distinctive pattern by the alpha-keratin that forms hair, the researchers explain in the International Journal of Cancer. Dr. Gary L. Corino and Dr. Peter W. French, based at Fermiscan Ltd in Sydney, used the technique to look at samples of hair from 13 patients diagnosed with breast cancer and 20 healthy subjects.

Hair was cut as close to the skin as possible to obtain samples of the most recent hair growth. The investigators "successfully and consistently generated the basic alpha-keratin X-ray diffraction pattern in every hair sample."

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