Endoscope Detects Pancreatic Cancer

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Clinicians may soon be able to identify pancreatic cancer in patients using a simple endoscopic procedure, according to data published in GIE: Gastroenterology Endoscopy.


The procedure employs an endoscope with an attached optical blood oxygen sensor. The device works by measuring changes in blood flow in the tissues near the pancreas. The idea is that the changes in blood flow signal the presence of a tumor because tumors require oxygen to grow.


The small pilot study included 14 patients already diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 10 patients without cancer. The researchers found that the device had a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 86%.


Although the data are extremely limited, the researchers said the results are “promising.” Currently, no available test can identify pancreatic cancer at an early stage and, unfortunately, most of these cancers are found at an advanced or metastatic stage when no effective treatment is available.


If these data are validated in larger studies, one researcher said, then it may be possible to detect pancreatic cancer earlier. The unique concept driving this detection method is the fact that clinicians would not be looking for changes in the tumor itself but rather in the surrounding tissue. This is known as the “cancer field effect.”


One large study is already underway now at several institutions in the United States and Europe.


The device is also being tested in colon and esophageal cancers. 

Endoscope Detects Pancreatic Cancer
Endoscope Detects Pancreatic Cancer
An optical blood oxygen sensor attached to an endoscope is able to identify pancreatic cancer in patients via a simple endoscopic procedure, according to researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida. 
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