New biopsy for cancer

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12 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year. People getting biopsies for various reasons may have to wait days or more than a week to find out if they're one of them, but a new kind of biopsy is changing that.

Niloofar Shamloo started painting five years ago, but his painting was interrupted. "I was very sick, so I couldn't continue to go to classes."

In fact, she could barely move. "I was in bed all the time."

It was the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis. Doctors feared it could be the sign of something even worse, like pancreatic cancer.

"Most of the time we diagnose pancreatic cancer already too late," says Michel Kahaleh, MD, AGAF, FACG, FASGE Professor of Clinical Medicine Medical Director Pancreas Program Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology Department of Medicine Weill Cornell Medical College.

Diagnosis involves an invasive biopsy, then a stressful waiting period. Using what's called a confocal Endomicroscope, doctors can diagnose cancer cells while in the operating room, without the need for laboratory biopsies. Clear cells are normal, the dark cells. “Those are cells that are suspicious to be malignos or pre-malignos."

Those images, magnified up to a thousand times more than a traditional endoscope, are sent to a computer where doctors can see each cell. "The patient will leave with an idea if they have cancer or not."

Niloofar woke up from surgery and was told immediately she did not have cancer. "For me it was like a miracle."

Back to painting with peace of mind.

Doctors are also using the scope to detect other GI Tract problems, cancers in the abdomen, and colon. The doctor believes within the next ten years the new approach could replace traditional biopsies.