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Scientists develop rear-view mirror to spot bowel cancer
00:47 GMT, 11 December 2012
Scientists have developed a new device that works like a ‘rear-view mirror’ for the surgeon during bowel examinations, helping to detect 25 per cent more abnormalities
Bowel cancer is Britain’s third most common cancer, with 40,000 new diagnoses a year.
The disease also claims 16,000 lives a year, making it the second most common cause of cancer death.
The Third Eye Retroscope is used along with a standard colonoscope to improve detection
That’s because, although the disease is treatable if detected early, 90 per cent of patients are diagnosed once the cancer is advanced, often because they are too embarrassed to seek medical help.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, blood in the stools and unexpected weight loss.
To look for the early warning signs of bowel cancer, thousands of patients a year undergo a colonoscopy.
This 30-minute out-patient procedure, often carried out under sedation, involves a colonoscope — a thin, bendy tube with a video camera and light on the end of it — being inserted into the bowel.
As the device is withdrawn from the body, the camera relays video images of the inside of the bowel back to the doctor to check for abnormal growths, called adenomatous polyps or adenomas — these can then be removed before they become cancerous.
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year revealed that removing adenomas reduces deaths from bowel cancer by 53 per cent.
However, a number of studies published over the past 15 years have shown that traditional colonoscopies miss between 21 and 24 per cent of adenomas, and 12 per cent of large adenomas 1cm or more in size which are at greatest risk of becoming cancerous.
In two-thirds of cases, this is because they are hidden behind folds in the wall of the bowel.
In other cases, adenomas may be missed because the bowel has not been emptied properly before the procedure.
Now U.S. scientists have developed a new device, the Third Eye Retroscope, which is used along with a standard colonoscope to improve detection.
The Third Eye provides an additional video camera which gives a rear-facing view to reveal the areas behind folds that are hidden from the front-facing view of the colonoscope.
The rear-view camera is contained on a J-shaped attachment fixed to the tip of the colonoscope.
Studies show having that extra view significantly improves detection rates — especially among patients at high risk of bowel cancer (a family history of the disease, poor diet and increasing age are all risk factors).
An international study of 395 patients, published in the World Journal Of Gastroenterology earlier this year, revealed the Third Eye colonoscopy identifies 40 per cent more adenomas in people at high risk of bowel cancer, and 23 per cent more in the general population.
No large adenomas were missed using the new device.
For patients, the experience is exactly the same as a traditional colonoscopy.
Using the Third Eye does not add any time to the procedure, and preparation for it is exactly the same. However, doctors need additional training to teach them how to look at two images simultaneously.
The manufacturer says it takes around 15 to 20 cases for doctors to perfect the technique.
The disposable device, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2009 and which costs around 200, is currently available only in America, but the manufacturers plan to bring it to Britain within the next couple of years.
Commenting on the new device, consultant surgeon Tan Arulampalam, from Beating Bowel Cancer’s medical board, says: ‘A colonoscopy is one of the best ways to see whether there are any abnormal growths in the bowel.
‘Initial studies into this new technique reveal that it could detect these polyps better because more of the bowel can be seen during the examination.
‘Anything that improves early detection rates is a positive step forward.
However, it isn’t widely available yet in the UK, so we recommend anyone worried about the symptoms of bowel cancer should visit their GP.’
Drinking more milk and eating more fish and honey may lower the risk of the bowel condition Crohn’s disease.
Researchers from the General State Hospital in Nicea, Greece, examined the diet of patients with the disease at the time of diagnosis, and compared it with a similar group of healthy people.
Drinking more milk and eating more fish and honey may lower the risk of the bowel condition Crohn's disease
Results show that increased consumption of milk and yoghurt, fish, honey, and nuts, was associated with reduced risk for Crohn’s.
The researchers also found there was increased intake of fat, sugar and alcohol in the newly diagnosed patients.
The condition is caused by the body mistakenly attacking the lining of the gut.
Scientists believe milk, fish and honey may help reduce inflammation, which calms the immune system.