December 31, 2008--Medical device company SpectraScience (San Diego, CA) announced that the significant rate of missed cancers during colonoscopies may be greatly improved by the use of its spectrophotometric WavSTAT Optical Biopsy System. A recent Canadian study shows the limitations of colonoscopies in detecting cancer, and reports that the procedure may detect polyps and early cancerous tissue only 60-70% of the time.
The Canadian study in the Journal, Annals of Internal Medicine found that traditional colonoscopy, while widely recommended, was much less accurate than anyone expected. Scientists at SpectraScience pointed out that using a safe low power laser to illuminate tissue in the colon, the WavSTAT system, when combined with a physician's visual assessment can tell within seconds if the tissue is "normal" or "suspect" with 96% sensitivity.
Using the principle of laser-induced fluorescence (LIF), diseased or cancerous tissue fluoresces differently compared to normal healthy tissue. Diseased tissue has reduced fluorophors which when analyzed by a specialized detector can indicate with high sensitivity that the cells are becoming dysplastic, a precursor to cancer.
During colonoscopy, a small fiber-optic probe is directed by the clinician to touch the suspicious tissue. Depressing a foot switch directs low powered, safe laser light into the tissue. The laser shuts off and the tissue fluorescence light is directed back up the same fiber optic probe to a specialized detector. The system's computer analyses the detectors output and within seconds displays a RED or GREEN light on a screen. A GREEN light means the tissue is "normal" with 96% sensitivity. Where a flat polyp is suspect, multiple uses of the optical fiber and the RED light may assist the clinician in determining the margin of the "suspect" tissue and remove all of it in the same procedure.
SpectraScience holds approximately 60 patents worldwide that have been issued or are pending on its WavSTAT Optical Biopsy System and LUMA Cervical Imaging Systems. These devices are used to assess tissue quickly to help determine if it is normal, pre-cancerous, or cancerous. The WavSTAT and LUMA Systems are currently approved by the FDA for detecting pre-cancerous and cancerous tissue in the colon and cervix, respectively. An evaluation of the WavSTAT for detection of pre-cancers in the throat is being tested.
For more information, go to www.spectrascience.com.
--Posted by Gail Overton, [email protected].