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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
'British test detects cancer earlier'
Cancer X-ray
Early detection can boost cancer survival chances
British scientists have devised a technique that could help to detect thousands of cancers at their earliest stages.

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have spent four years developing the technique which detects cancerous tissues.

Patients drink a special fluid that shows cancerous tissue as fluorescent when violet light is shone on it.

The tissues are identified by inserting a tiny camera into the body.

The fluid consists of a mixture of drugs and is taken just before the endoscope camera is inserted.

According to the scientists, the technique, which they have called the endoscopic fluorescence detection system, may be particularly effective in identifying throat and colon cancers.

They said the technique has a high success rate of identifying cancerous tissue at its earliest stages compared with existing procedures.

Major benefits

Professor Mike Padgett, professor of physics at the University of Glasgow, said the technique could have major benefits and could reverse the current low survival rates for people with cancers of the colon and oesophagus.

"Many of these cancers just aren't picked up early enough. By the time they are found it is too late.

"Conventional screening of random tissue samples might miss cancers. Our system enables us to pick up more cancers."

The technique is being tested on cancer patients at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

Dr Iain Tait, a doctor at the hospital, said the system could be used on patients with a high risk of developing some cancers.

"We hope this will be of huge usefulness to people in high risk groups, such as those with a high genetic risk who need screening.

It could make it much easier to pick up cancers in their earliest stages and make treatment easier

Dr Iain Tait, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee

"It could make it much easier to pick up cancers in their earliest stages and make treatment easier."

According to Prof Padgett other hospitals have already expressed an interest in trying it out.

"It is being tested in Ninewells for six months to see how much it improves detection.

"Other centres have expressed an interest in it and if it goes as well as we hope, it could be available in 40 centres in Britain."

The technique was demonstrated at the New Frontiers in Science 2000 exhibition, which was held in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

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19 Jun 00 | Health
Call for national cancer agency
01 Jun 00 | Health
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