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New Type of Digestive Endoscopy Diagnoses Small, Early Esophageal Cancers without Biopsy

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 24 Feb 2023
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Image: Digestive endoscopy is used for observation and diagnosis of esophageal lesions (Photo courtesy of Pexels)
Image: Digestive endoscopy is used for observation and diagnosis of esophageal lesions (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Esophageal cancer poses a serious threat to people's life and health as it is the world’s seventh most common cancer and the sixth deadliest type of cancer. It is a malignant tumor originating from the esophagus that is often detected in an advanced stage, resulting in a high fatality rate and slim chances of survival. This makes it vital to diagnose esophageal cancer in the early stages, although this can be challenging for endoscopists due to the small size and lack of typical features of esophageal cancers. Upon discovering lesions, endoscopists generally take biopsies more than once to confirm their finding, although this process can create complications like mucosal bleeding or perforation.

Digestive endoscopy is extensively used for the observation and diagnosis of digestive tract diseases, including esophageal lesions. However, the relatively lower diagnosis rate of early esophageal cancer using common gastroscopy creates the need for pathological biopsy to achieve a clear diagnosis. Continued advancements in medical equipment for the detection of early esophageal cancer has increased focus on endoscopic observation at the cell level and reduce dependence on pathological biopsy. This has led to the use of endocytoscopy which can enlarge the level of 520 and observe the changes of cells using special staining methods that are harmless, thereby allowing for early detection and diagnosis of esophageal lesions.

Currently, few studies have been carried out on the observation and diagnosis of esophageal cancer under endocytoscopy. Now, researchers at The Second Affiliated Hospital of Baotou Medical College (Baotou, China) who summarized published articles on these studies have found that endocytoscopy for the observation and diagnosis of early esophageal cancer has a high accuracy (95%) and specificity (92%), which is comparable to the efficacy of diagnosis after pathological biopsy. Based on their findings, the researchers recommend the extensive application of cell endoscopy for the observation and diagnosis of esophageal lesions in clinical practice.

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