Laser Endomicroscopy Enables Early Pancreatic Cancer Detection

Researchers used endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided needle-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (nCLE) to diagnose cysts in the pancreas with unprecedented accuracy. Patients typically do not exhibit symptoms of pancreatic cancer until it is advanced, making early diagnosis and treatment difficult.

The current standard includes analyzing the cyst fluid. In 71% of cases, it accurately classifies them as benign or precancerous. According to research, diagnostic accuracy increases to 97% when the virtual biopsy is introduced to the standard of care.

It can be challenging to differentiate between benign and cancerous pancreatic cysts, but we can now do so quickly and confidently thanks to this process. Ultimately, researchers hope to avoid unnecessary surgery of a benign, harmless pancreatic cyst or save lives by diagnosing pancreatic cancer early, before it progresses to cancer.

Using a tiny scope that emits laser light inside the cyst, the endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided needle-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (nCLE) technique used in the researchers’ study gives physicians a microscopic view of the cyst wall. It enables medical professionals to ascertain if it is precancerous almost instantly.

To find dangerous cysts and stop pancreatic cancer in more patients, the researchers are now working on teaching physicians at hospitals across the country to use the diagnostic technique and interpret the images produced by the scope. For doctors to take quick action, researchers are also trying to create artificial intelligence that will identify cases that are probably precancerous.

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