17 Jun 2002
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a laser system that distinguishes between harmless growths in the colon and precancerous ones without removing any tissue. Colorectal cancer is second only to lung cancer as the most common cause of cancer deaths in the US.
Spectrascience's Optical Biopsy System scans and analyzes polyps in the colon in less than one second, to determine whether the growths should be removed for further examination or can be left alone. The device comprises a fibre-optic spectroscopic analysis system to deliver and receive light, and forceps to remove a growth if necessary.
In a study of 101 patients with 135 polyps at five US medical centers, the system increased the physicians' accuracy in correctly identifying precancerous polyps from 82 to 96% without any adverse effects, say the FDA.
Screening for colorectal cancer - the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide - is recommended for all individuals aged 50 and above.
Last month the Minneapolis-based company received approval from the European regulatory authorities to distribute the laser product commercially.