TUESDAY, Nov. 10, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Optical technology could help physicians detect small colorectal polyps during colonoscopies and save money, too, new research suggests.
In the report, published online Nov. 10 in The Lancet Oncology, the study authors explained that the technique could replace histopathology, which requires more testing and can be costly. Histopathology requires the examination of tissue.
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of death from cancer, outranked only by lung cancer. It will kill an estimated 49,920 people in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. But early detection, which allows doctors to remove pre-cancerous polyps, can prevent deaths.
In the study, British researchers examined the records of the diagnosis of 363 small colorectal polyps that were found in 130 people. Their aim was to determine if optical diagnosis was accurate.
They found that optical technology allowed colonoscopists to accurately pinpoint up to 93 percent of small colorectal polyps. This is about the same level as histopathology.
The researchers estimated that using optical diagnosis for the people in the study would have saved $22,000 in medical costs. By some estimates, use of optical technology instead of histopathology could save $95 million a year in the United States.
"Optical diagnosis for small colonic polyps could become acceptable standard of care in routine non-academic clinical practice," the study authors concluded.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colorectal cancer.