Technology Grades Cells to Predict Cancer

Barretts esophagus biopsy evaluation with SL QPM

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(RxWiki News) Folks with severe acid reflux can develop a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett's esophagus that needs to be watched carefully. A new piece of equipment may help doctors detect the earliest stages of cancer.

Research on using a new microscopic technique to evaluate abnormal cells from patients with Barrett's esophagus showed improvement over the current method, raising the accuracy of detecting abnormal cells in a given biopsy to 89 percent.

"Ask your oncologist about new microscopic techniques such as SL-QPM."

The equipment, known as spatial-domain low-coherence quantitative phase microscopy, looks for small changes in the cells that can not be seen with a normal microscope. The technology grades the cells on their probability of developing into cancer.

While this will not change treatment of patients who have clear signs of cancer at the time of evaluation, it can help identify cases at an earlier point than normal.

The new microscopic technique looks at cellular abnormalities in the nucleus, grading the appearance of the nuclear material on density, organization, and uniform appearance.

Researchers stated that adoption of this equipment may lower the amount of biopsies needed, and may result in earlier detection of cancers.

“If subsequent testing proves successful, our approach could lead to simpler and more effective ways of monitoring for patients with Barrett’s esophagus. Such a monitoring program would identify a subset of high-risk Barrett’s patients who need more intensive surveillance, and who could also be candidates for therapy to destroy the precancerous tissue,” said lead researcher Randall Brand, M.D. and professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

Research was presented at the ninth annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Results are considered preliminary until research is published in a peer reviewed journal.

Researchers did not report any financial conflicts of interest with the study.

Last Updated:
February 21, 2012