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New form of endoscopic scanning improves detection of precancerous condition
Date:4/12/2010

BOSTON Cancer of the lower esophagus develops almost exclusively in patients with Barrett's esophagus, an otherwise benign complication of esophageal reflux that affects approximately 3 million Americans. Although the prognosis of patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer is poor, the chances of successful treatment increase significantly if the disease is detected at an early dysplastic stage.

Now, a new endoscopic scanning technique developed by scientists in the Biomedical Imaging and Spectroscopy Laboratory (BISL) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has proven successful in the early detection of dysplasia in Barrett's esophagus. The results of the study, which appear in the April 11 on-line issue of the journal Nature Medicine, could help clinicians to diagnose esophageal cancer at an earlier stage, when the condition is still treatable.

"We have established that this multispectral scanning technique, which we have named endoscopic polarized scanning spectroscopy [EPSS] offers great promise for the early detection of dysplasia in patients with Barrett's esophagus," explains inventor and senior author Lev Perelman, PhD, Director of the BISL at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School. "When used to guide the endoscopist, EPSS appears to not only help to avoid unnecessary biopsies, but also to help the endoscopist to locate suspicious dysplastic areas that might otherwise be missed."

The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach, allowing food to enter the stomach for digestion. Although cancer of the esophagus remains relatively rare, it is currently the fastest increasing cancer in the U.S., possibly due to an increased incidence of obesity. Furthermore, the symptoms of esophageal cancer including difficulty swallowing, chest pain, or choking generally do not appear until advanced stages of the disease.

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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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