April 15, 2024


Researchers in Glasgow have identified a new way to diagnose and treat bowel cancer using imaging technology, avoiding the need for biopsies.

Biopsies require an invasive procedure with a number of health risks, such as infection, and are limited in what they can capture in a patient’s gut.

Experts working with Cancer Research UK have found that positron emission tomography (PET) imaging allows the whole bowel to be examined and tumors can be studied while they are inside the body, as opposed to examining the tissue once it has been removed.

PET scans create a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body, and researchers believe that multiple scans during treatment can help monitor the disease more effectively.

Dr David Lewis, from the Cancer Research UK Scotland Institute and the University of Glasgow, who led the research, said: “Precision medicine has the potential to transform cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“However, the development of accurate, informative and patient-friendly diagnostic techniques is crucial for its success.

“PET imaging offers a promising alternative, with the ability to examine the entire cancer landscape, allowing us to examine tumors in more detail while they are still growing.”

According to Cancer Research UK, around 4,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in Scotland, and around 1,800 people diagnosed with the disease die each year.

The research team used existing genetic data on bowel cancer to identify different tumor characteristics using PET imaging.

They were also able to discover several different types of colon cancer in mice based on their genes.

Dr Catherine Elliott, director of research at Cancer Research UK, said: “These findings by the team at the Cancer Research UK Scotland Institute and University of Glasgow offer an exciting opportunity to change the way we diagnose and monitor bowel cancer without invasive surgery change, which reduces the risk and improves outcomes for patients.

“PET imaging is a crucial tool in our future approach to diagnosing this disease, which affects so many people in Scotland.”



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