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Polarized filter may reduce unnecessary cervical biopsies and surgeries
Date:11/29/2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. The same filtered light that enables sunglasses to reduce glare may improve a physician's ability to detect early signs of cervical cancer, reducing unnecessary biopsies and surgery.

Polarized light is more focused than traditional radial light which scatters in all directions, said Dr. Daron G. Ferris, colposcopist, family medicine physician and Director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Center at Georgia Health Sciences University.

When a woman gets an abnormal Pap smear, it's often followed by a colposcopic exam where radial light and magnification are used to view the cervix then biopsies are performed on suspicious areas.

A National Cancer Institute-funded study is helping determine whether also taking a look through a polarized filter improves the ability to detect precancerous changes, enhancing efficacy while reducing needless biopsies and the discomfort and cost that may result.

"Using both types of light to examine the cervix may give us additional perspective so we can find more disease and avoid treating something that does not need it," Ferris said.

In the study of 300 women age 18 and older, Ferris is first using the standard approach, including marking suspicious areas, then taking another look with the polarized filter to see how the findings correlate before doing a biopsy. "If we use polarized light, how does that change what we can see?" he said.

The approach might be most effective in young women where normal immature cell types in the cervix are more difficult to discriminate from neoplastic cells. This extremely thin skin is an easy target for infection by human papillomavirus, the primary cause of cervical cancer, Ferris said.

"If polarized light eliminates cases where it's not clear whether the area is worrisome or not, that is going to reduce the number of biopsies," Ferris said. "We want to see if it adds value." And the confusion may not end with the biop
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@georgiahealth.edu
706-721-4421
Georgia Health Sciences University
Source:Eurekalert  

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