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CT Scan Spots Operable Pancreatic Cancers

It's just as effective as more invasive endoscopy, study finds

TUESDAY, Nov. 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- High-quality computed tomography (CT) scans are as effective as more invasive endoscopic ultrasound in assessing whether pancreatic cancer can be treated surgically.

So says an Indiana University School of Medicine study in the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"This is the first study to compare state-of-the-art CT imaging with what many physicians assumed would be better -- the more invasive endoscopic ultrasound procedure, which requires the use of sedation and the insertion of a miniature camera into the patient's body," lead researcher Dr. John DeWitt, an assistant professor of medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"We have shown that a state-of-the-art CT scan can do as accurate a job at letting us know which patients have tumors which can be successfully surgically removed as the more invasive endoscopic ultrasound. If a person has a high-quality CT scan which shows a mass that appears to be completely removable, endoscopic ultrasound does not appear to be necessary to confirm that a tumor is removable," DeWitt said.

However, the study did find that endoscopic ultrasound was more accurate in detecting new pancreatic cancers and in determining the stage of the disease.

Each year in the United States, about 30,700 cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed and about 30,000 people die of the disease. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. This form of cancer is difficult to diagnose and the only cure is successful surgical removal of the entire tumor.

More information

The National Pancreas Foundation has more about pancreatic cancer.

SOURCE: Indiana University School of Medicine, news release, Nov. 15, 2004
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