Shedding Light on Colon Cancer
Reported January 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- When colon cancer symptoms appear, the cancer is often already at an advanced stage. To catch it early, regular screening is a must. Soon, screening for colon cancer may not only be a whole lot easier -- but could also detect it earlier than ever before.
"Over 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer." Hemant Roy, M.D., gastroenterologist at Evanston Northwestern Health Care in Evanston, Ill., told Ivanhoe.
It's a statistic that worries gastroenterologist Dr. Roy -- only half the people who need a colonoscopy will get one.
While colonoscopies are effective, they're also invasive. Now, Dr. Roy says this tiny light could be the next best defense. This technique is sensitive to things 10 to 20 times smaller than can be seen with a conventional microscope. The light scattering probe spots danger before polyps ever form.
"Since this will be minimally intrusive, maybe we can get more of the people screened," Dr. Roy said.
The probe is tiny compared to a standard colonoscope and it lights up rectal tissue with no need to go through the whole colon. Computer analysis of the backscattered light shows if the colon is a breeding ground for polyps. In studies, the probe is 90 percent accurate at telling if cancerous polyps will form.
Twenty-seven year old Reid Foster knows he has the colon cancer gene. "Starting at age 25, I started getting colonoscopies," said Foster.
He's had the new light probe too and says the difference is night and day.
"You just look at the diameter, I mean, it's an optical fiber versus something the diameter of a drumstick. I mean, you just tell that to somebody, most people would choose fiber!" said Foster.
It's an obvious benefit, but be patient. The probe is about five years away from FDA approval.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
National Cancer Institute
This Month's TV Reports
Airline passengers may soon have smoother flights and fewer delays. Pilots are testing a new turbulence detection system.
Delayed and Cancelled! Ice is to blame for millions of stranded passengers a year. Now there’s a new tool to reduce the dangers of flying.
Does Winter Cause The Flu?
We know it happens in the winter … but why? For the first time scientists find out why the flu spreads faster the colder it is.
Keeping Cool on the Ice
New uniforms may change the game forever -- helping players stay cool and dry on the ice.
Every Second Counts
There’s a time change happening this month -- La Nina is doing more than impacting our weather – it’s also affecting our time.
Chasing a Star Named Mira
An amazing new find by astronomers may show us a whole new solar system being formed!
Google into Space
Just like Google Earth, now anyone can explore space just by clicking your mouse.
Videogames for National Security
Video games could be the first line of defense in the face of disaster. We’ll show you how gaming may be vital to saving lives.
Protecting Your Water
The same tool used to measure earthquakes is now being used to detect contaminated water.
Shedding Light on Colon Cancer
A tiny light may save people from getting colon cancer and may make the screening process a whole lot better.
A virtual drivers-ed course helps older adults driver safer.
Iron Science Teacher
Want to know if your science teacher is the best? Send them to compete for the Iron Science crown.