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Digital Remedy On South Pole

Online consultation will be a digital cure for doctors trying to help a 47-year-old woman who's stranded on the South Pole battling breast cancer.

Conventional diagnosis and treatment are out-of-reach because of weather conditions, but as CBS News Correspondent Russ Mitchell reports, high-tech medicine ensures she'll be seen by top specialists.

Dr. Larry Norton of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center credits "the wonder of the modern digital image. Once you have it, it can look as good as anywhere."

Using airlifted equipment like digital microscopes, the South Pole facility will take blood samples, ultra sound results, and other vital information from the woman. Taking it all in via the internet, the National Cancer Institute and other doctors in the U.S. will use two-way video teleconferencing to guide the Antarctica staff through treatment.

Because of the dark, stormy Antarctic winter, it is impossible to get the patient out of the South Pole until October. Specifics on the exact nature of her condition are not being released, but doctors are hopeful even if surgery is needed.

Norton says it's not unusual for breast cancer patients to begin chemotherapy as the first line of treatment.

"A three to four month period of chemotherapy before surgery is a very rational thing to do," he explains. "Even if she was not in Antarctica."

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