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Proceedings Paper

Improving colorectal cancer screening: fact and fantasy
Author(s): Jacques Van Dam
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Paper Abstract

Premalignant diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as Barrett's esophagus, long-standing ulcerative colitis, and adenomatous polyps, have a significantly increased risk for development of adenocarcinoma, most often through an intermediate stage of dysplasia. Adenocarcinoma of the colon is the second most common cancer in the United States. Because patients with colorectal cancer often present with advanced disease, the outcomes are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Effective methods of early detection are essential. As non-polypoid dysplasia is not visible using conventional endoscopy, surveillance of patients with Barrett's esophagus and ulcerative colitis is performed via a system in which multiple random biopsies are obtained at prescribed intervals. Sampling error and missed diagnoses occur frequently and render current screening methods inadequate. Also, the examination of a tissue biopsy is time consuming and costly, and significant intra- and inter-observer variation may occur. The newer methods discussed herein demonstrate the potential to solve these problems by early detection of disease with high sensitivity and specificity. Conventional endoscopy is based on the observation of white light reflected off the tissue surface. Subtle changes in color and shadow reveal structural changes. New developments in optical imaging go beyond white light, exploiting other properties of light. Several promising methods will be discussed at this meeting and shall be briefly discussed below. However, few such imaging modalities have arrived at our clinical practice. Some much more practical methods to improve colorectal cancer screening are currently being evaluated for their clinical impact. These methods seek to overcome limitations other than those of detecting dysplasia not visible under white light endoscopy. The current standard practice of colorectal cancer screening utilizes colonoscopy, an uncomfortable, sometimes difficult medical procedure. Efforts to improve the practice of colonoscopy will be described. Another limitation of the current practice is the inability to detect polypoid neoplasia that is hidden from view under white light imaging by the natural folds that occur within the colon. A device to overcome this limitation will also be described. Efforts to improve colorectal cancer screening (and thereby decrease the death rate of this second leading cause of cancer death in the United States) are progressing in many arenas. The researcher, basic or clinical, should maintain an up to date overview of the field and how each new technological advance is likely to have a role in the screening and early detection of colorectal cancer.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 March 2008
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 6864, Biomedical Applications of Light Scattering II, 68640C (1 March 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.762449
Show Author Affiliations
Jacques Van Dam, Stanford Univ. School of Medicine (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6864:
Biomedical Applications of Light Scattering II
Adam Wax; Vadim Backman, Editor(s)

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