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Breakthrough optical technology to assess colon cancer risk, accuracy
Date:10/1/2008

Roy, "to very precisely know that you're looking at the most superficial layer of tissue -- which is where all polyps and cancer start -- and the accuracy with which these things can be measured."

Researchers used the optic probe to measure oxygenated (Ohb) and deoxygenated (Dhb) hemoglobin (Hb) specifically in the colonic lining where small blood vessels circulate. At NorthShore's Evanston Hospital, 222 patients undergoing colonoscopy screening were recruited for the study in 2006 and 2007.

Of these patients, 175 had no adenomas detected, 35 had non-advanced adenomas and 12 had advanced adenomas (polyps larger than one centimeter). The mean age was 56.6 years and 40 percent were female. There were no significant differences in gender. The groups did not significantly differ in tobacco or alcohol history.

The study found that the total Hb concentration was elevated 75.3 percent above control levels (comparable region from patients with no adenomas) at the adenoma site and persisted in the uninvolved mucosa (microscopically normal) area. Moreover, tissue sites located within 10 and 30 centimeters away from an adenoma also manifested a highly statistically significant increase in total Hb, OHb and DHb concentration.

"We are not determining whether an abnormality is cancer or not cancer," said Roy. "What we are doing is using optical technology to determine if we can assess risk through looking at field carcinogenesis [cancer formation]. The potential clinical applications include enhanced polyp detection during colonoscopy."

"While the technology is still in the clinical trial phase," notes Michael Goldberg, M.D., head of gastroenterology at NorthShore University HealthSystem, "it could be available to patients at NorthShore in five years."

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing 55,000 Americans each year. The disease is 90 percent preventable if pre-cancerous poly
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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