Technology is ever expanding and there are some huge advances coming our way when it comes to diagnosis of cancer of the stomach, esophagus and colon. These new tests may fully remove the need for biopsy and the anxious wait for test results in many cases. Aside from immediate real time diagnosis and treatment it will remove the long time concerns that biopsies may facilitate the spread of cancer simply by cutting into cancerous tissues and releasing the cancer cells into the circulation to find their way to other parts of the body.
CLE, or confocal laser endomicroscopy, (CLE) is used to examine living polyps and other suspicious lesions in the stomach, esophagus and colon through revealing cross sectional images as well a inter layers of tissues at the cellular level. This long tube with a tiny microscope and laser light at the end that can magnify these tissue up to 1000 times which can reveal the structure of precancerous or cancerous cells. This will facilitate earlier diagnosis a well as the elimination for the need for a biopsy. This work is being done at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. This system can also be used to diagnose Barrett’s Syndrome and gastric relux disease.
Conofocal endomicroscopic system (CES) is a similar devise and use in colonoscopy as diagnosis can be made at the time of colonoscopy and the removal of small precancerous and cancerous lesions can be done at this time without the risk of biopsy, nor the time it takes to made a diagnosis via a lab and repeat procedures. It will also decrease costs to the patient and to insurance companies.
Since this procedure is relatively new and requires specialized training and equipment your gastroenterologist may not be using these techniques. You will have to look around for someone who is capable. Aside from the Mayo Clinic in Florida it is also being researched and used at Stanford University and John Hopkins Schools of Medicine
This microscope is also used to diagnose collagenous colitis without need for biopsy and The American Urological Association has reported research in using the confocal microscope for diagnosis of bladder cancer with promising results. Promising results have also been found in use for detection of precancerous and cancerous disease in the larynx. It is also a developing application in occular medicine and dermatology.
Report on Cofocal Endomicroscopy
A Study Abstract