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Colonoscopy Beats 'Camera Pill' at Catching Colon Cancer
Date:7/15/2009

But less invasive detection method still shows promise, scientists say

WEDNESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers had high hopes for a minimally invasive cancer-screening technique known as capsule endoscopy, but the "camera pill" appears to be less effective than standard colonoscopy at identifying precancerous polyps and cancer, new research from Belgium suggests.

Although able to identify many lesions and cancers, the relative underperformance of capsule endoscopy -- in which a patient swallows a tiny, battery-operated, excretable capsule fitted with a double-sided video camera -- suggests that for now the more invasive colonoscopy should remain the gold standard for colorectal cancer detection.

"Although this study shows encouraging results, the use of the colon capsule can not be recommended at this stage for colon screening," said study lead author Dr. Andre Van Gossum from the department of gastroenterology at Erasme University Hospital at the Free University of Brussels.

The findings were published in the July 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study involved more than 300 patients who were scheduled to undergo a colonoscopy at one of eight medical centers, because they either had a history of colon cancer (about one-third of the patients) or were suspected of having the disease (about two-thirds of the patients). The patients underwent capsule endoscopy and, after that, conventional colonoscopy.

Participants ranged in age from 22 to 84 (average age was nearly 59), and 55 percent were men.

The researchers determined that capsule endoscopy -- which does not require sedation -- is indeed a safe and less invasive technique for visualizing the colon.

Technically, the colon capsule functioned as intended in nearly 98 percent of patients, the team found. The pill was deemed easy-to-swallow, and none of the patients experienced any problems
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