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Fox Chase Cancer Center Sheds New Light on Uncharted Territories in GI Tract; New Technology Revolutionizes Treatment for Small-Intestine Disorders

PHILADELPHIA (June 28, 2005) - People with disorders of the small intestine often must undergo major surgery for diagnosis and treatment. Because of the small bowel's extraordinary length, it is the most difficult organ in the gastrointestinal tract to examine by endoscopy. Now, Fox Chase Cancer Center offers an innovative approach to diagnosing and treating problems in the small intestine without surgery or laparotomy using new technology called the double-balloon enteroscopy.

The double-balloon enteroscopy, or DBE, is similar to a colonoscopy for the colon. Recently, endoscopy in the form of a capsule (wireless endoscopy) was introduced to help gastroenterologists examine the small bowel. This examination allows them to diagnose unexplained bleeding, Crohn's disease, polyposis syndromes, arteriovenous malformations and other disorders of the small intestine.

However, not until the development of the DBE system have physicians been able to use interventional endoscopy and treat patients without surgery.

"The double-balloon endoscopy allows us to take samples or biopsies and to perform interventions during the examination," said Oleh Haluszka, MD, director of gastrointestinal endoscopy at Fox Chase. "DBE is the most significant advance in endoscopy in the last decade.

"For the first time, gastroenterologists can investigate and potentially treat areas of the small intestine that previously were unreachable except by surgery," Haluszka said. "This technology allows us to forgo a cumbersome and lengthy abdominal surgery and laparotomy, which was the only option for many patients previously."

DBE may be appropriate for patients who have positive findings on a capsule study, abdominal CT scan or barium small-bowel follow-through. The primary physician or gastroenterologist would generally refer patients after other testing suggested a small-intestine abnormality.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of only 11 centers nationwide offering DBE and is the only center in the Delaware Valley using this technology.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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