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Bridging the gender gap
Date:7/19/2010

olon cancer, which raises concern about the disparity between the effectiveness of colon cancer screening techniques for men and women. Given women's proclivity toward proximal tumors the hardest to detect using current technologies researchers are seeking to develop even stronger screening techniques for women.

"Because women are particularly likely to develop cancer in the proximal colon the hardest to detect there is a disparity in screening for colorectal cancer in women," says Roy, director of gastroenterology research at NorthShore University HealthSystem. "This study is one of several efforts to apply new technologies to improve our ability to detect cancer, specifically in women."

The researchers hoped that by combining the test with an optic probe that measures how light scatters through tissue would provide a way to measure very subtle changes in the tissue that can indicate the presence of cancer in the organ. The technology makes use of a biological phenomenon known as the "field effect," a hypothesis that suggests the genetic and environmental milieu that results in a neoplastic lesion in one area of an organ should be detectable throughout the organ and even in neighboring tissue. Backman's group has applied a suite of optical technologies to identify signs of the field effect in colon, pancreatic and lung cancers.

"Using these optical techniques, we can identify very subtle changes in tissue that appears to be normal when examined using traditional techniques," says Backman. "This increased level of detail allows us to discover new markers for disease, which we hope will provide new methods to identify cancer in its earliest stages."

In the study of 366 male and female patients, researchers found the performance characteristics of the test to be very promising. The technique identified with 100 percent accuracy each person who had a neoplasia in the proximal colon. Some people were identified who did not have a
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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