New technology offers faster cancer answers - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

New technology offers faster cancer answers

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(10/15/12) - One of the hardest things about having a cancer biopsy is the waiting, wondering if you are, in fact, sick. It can takes days, even weeks to get an answer sometimes. But, a new biopsy technique is giving results right on the spot. Quick results not only relieve stress, they get treatment started that much faster.

"I started painting five years ago," but, Insofar Shamloo's painting was interrupted.

"I was very sick, so I couldn't continue to go to classes. I was in bed all the time," in fact, she says, she could barely move.

The cause was the inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis. Doctors feared it could be the sign of something even worse, like pancreatic cancer.

"Most of the time we diagnose pancreatic cancer already too late," says Weill Cornell Medical College's Dr. Michel Kahaleh.

Diagnosis usually involves an invasive biopsy, then a stressful waiting period. But, using a device called a confocal endomicroscope, doctors can diagnose cancer cells while in the operating room, without the need for laboratory biopsies.

Clear cells show up normal, but the dark cells, says Dr. Kahaleh, "those are cells that are suspicious to be malignos or pre-malignos."

The new scope's images are magnified up to a thousand times more those of a traditional endoscope. They are sent to a computer, where doctors can see each cell.

"The patient will leave with an idea if they have cancer or not," Kahaleh says.

Niloofar woke up from surgery and was told immediately she did not have cancer, "for me it was like a miracle."

The scope is also helping detect other GI tract problems, cancers in the abdomen, and colon. It is hoped that, within the next ten years, this new approach could replace traditional biopsies.

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