Study Shows Endoscopic Ultrasound Provides Accurate Non-Surgical Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer

Vol. 11, No. 2
July, 2001

  • Revolutionary Dual Chamber Pacemaker Implanted

  • Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery in Institute for Neurosciences

  • Relief for Restless Legs at Sleep Disorders Center

  • Spiritual Care Program Helps New Parents Cope with Loss

  • Study Shows Endoscopic Ultrasound Provides Accurate Non-Surgical Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer

  • Summertime Poses Special Risks for Seniors

  • Focus on Men�s Unique Health Concerns

  • Cancer Survivors� Day is A Celebration of Life

  • Art Party Held by Cancer Center for Kids

  • A Family�s Gift of Love

  • Jay�s World Supports Cancer Center for Kids

  • The bottom line at the New Life Center is a great birthing experience

  • Parenting Center Takes the Guesswork Out of Parenthood

  • Winthrop-University Hospital Honors Junior Volunteers

  • Auxiliary Holds 77th Annual Meeting

  • Institute for Cancer Care Beneficiary of Annual Golf Tournament

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  • Frank Gress, MD, Chief of Endoscopy, is among the region's most experienced in performing endoscopic ultrasound.
    Endoscopic ultrasound, a non-surgical, minimally invasive technique, may be the most accurate non-surgical method of diagnosing pancreatic cancer, according to a study published recently in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine. "These findings have implications for the 29,000 Americans who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year," said principal investigator Frank Gress, MD, Chief of Endoscopy at Winthrop.

    The traditional method for performing a biopsy on pancreatic masses is computed tomography (CT)-guided fine needle aspiration. "Unfortunately, this method yields false negative results up to 20 percent of the time," explained Dr. Gress. "That means that patients may not immediately begin the most appropriate treatment because the test does not provide an accurate diagnosis of their cancer."

    Endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA), on the other hand, provided a very small margin of false negative results. In fact, the procedure was 95% accurate in diagnosing pancreatic cancer, as confirmed by surgical biopsy or long-term follow-up. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) combines two commonly used medical modalities - endoscopy, or the passing of a thin, flexible tube down the esophagus, and ultrasound, the use of sound waves to provide images of internal structures. In this case, the ultrasound transducer is introduced into the esophagus endoscopically, and it provides high-resolution images of deep-seated organs such as the pancreas, gallbladder, stomach, and esophagus. Using EUS images to guide the placement of a thin needle, physicians are able to withdraw cells from suspected masses in these organs in order to diagnose malignancies.

    Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death for both men and women. However, there are treatments available for pancreatic cancer as well as other disorders affecting the pancreas, including symptom relief options which can dramatically improve quality of life for those who are diagnosed with cancer.

    "Additional studies are needed to demonstrate that EUS biopsy is superior to CT guided biopsy as a primary diagnostic method," noted Dr. Gress. "However, we believe we have shown it to be an excellent tool when CT biopsy is negative and the clinician strongly suspects pancreatic cancer."

    For additional information on Endoscopic Ultrasound, please call the Institute for Digestive Disorders at 1-866-2-DIGEST.

    EUS-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration Provides Long-Awaited Answer

    For years, Ellen Grove wondered what was wrong with her. She went from doctor to doctor, from specialist to specialist. Finally, Frank Gress, MD, Chief of Endoscopy at Winthrop's Institute for Digestive Disorders, diagnosed her condition.

    Severe reflux and pain following gallbladder surgery plagued Ms. Grove. Traditional diagnostic techniques, however, failed to yield an answer. Always lurking in the back of her mind was the fear that she could have pancreatic cancer.

    Dr. Gress performed endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration and put her fears to rest. He diagnosed chronic pancreatitis, chronic inflammation of the pancreas often seen in patients who have had gallstones, although there could be other causes. While there is no cure, Dr. Gress offered relief. Using endoscopic ultrasound to guide him once again, he performed a number of celiac plexus blocks, a targeted pain relief technique the effects of which can last up to one year.

    "When other doctors said to me, 'I'm sorry, but you're a case where medical science has failed the patient,' Dr. Gress and Winthrop never gave up on me," said Ms. Grove.

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