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Colon cancer tumor remover

October 4, 2012 3:15:44 PM PDT
Colonoscopies are the best way to find cancers and pre-cancers in the large intestine. Sometimes they need surgery to remove. But early cancers can be removed through the scope. A new technique makes that removal safer.

Unlike standard colonoscopy removals, this technique removes the tumor in one whole piece. It was developed in Japan where stomach cancers were the target. There is one hospital in our area using the new method, in today's case, on a patient with colon cancer.

Aimee Yaboni knew she should have a colonoscopy at age fifty last September, but she was surprised when it turned up a cancer.

"It terrified me cause I have a daughter and i wanted to get it taken out as soon as possible," Yaboni said.

She went to see dr. Stavros Stavropoulos, one of a handful of doctors in the country using a tiny knife passed through the endoscope to remove tumors without removing a piece of the intestine and with a lower risk of cancer return.

"This is an improvement over surgery because it allows an organ preserving removal of these cancers and pre-cancers," she said.

Surgery means removing part of the colon with the cancer, but Amy's cancer was caught early and had not invaded the muscles deep in the colon wall. Surgery wasn't needed.

There is a standard endoscopy procedure that removes the tumor in pieces. Unfortunately, that means leaving some cancer cells behind.

Instead, Dr. Stavropoulos passed a wire through the endoscope on the tip of which was a special tiny knife.

In this drawing, you can see how the knife can cut under the tumor without touching it. It's peeled off the colon wall in one piece, less risk of leaving cancer cells behind. A wire snare surrounds it and pulls it out.

The method has a higher complications risk than the standard technique, but it the lower recurrence risk eased amy's mind.

"I'm very happy, and know that i have to go for a follow-up in another year, but I'm worry free for now," Dr. Stavros Stavropoulos of Winthrop University Hospital said.

This technique can be done for cancers or pre-cancers anywhere in the intestine from the esophagus to the rectum. Dr. Stavropoulos says it takes about a year for a doctor who is trained in standard endoscopy to learn this method. He adds that the micro knife technology is advancing year by year.

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