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Diagnostics Cytology, Technology and innovation, Histology

Giving Cancer the Brush-Off

At a Glance

  • Forceps biopsy screening for esophageal pre-cancers has a high degree of sampling error
  • Inter-observer variability further limits the protocol’s ability to detect significant disease
  • A new technique, WATS3D, combines wide-area trans-epithelial sampling with 3D computer-assisted analysis
  •  WATS3D reduces sampling error, improves detection of goblet cells and dysplasia with assistance from computer-generated images, and highlights the most atypical areas of tissue

Esophageal cancer may not be among the most common forms of cancer, but it’s certainly one of the most fatal. Only about one in five people diagnosed with esophageal cancer will survive five years (1), and over two-thirds are diagnosed with late-stage disease (2). The key precursor to esophageal cancer is Barrett’s esophagus (BE), a metaplastic change that is often followed by transition to dysplasia. Patients who exhibit signs of BE or esophageal dysplasia (ED) must undergo increased surveillance or ablation so that cancer can be preempted. However, current screening and surveillance technologies are flawed – a dangerous situation for patients at risk for esophageal cancer.

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About the Author

Robert Odze

Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Gastrointestinal Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA.

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