New tiny microscope helps find cancer early

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The world's smallest microscope is helping doctors at Bon Secours St. Mary's find certain cancers faster.

Only four hospitals in the state use this advanced technology. Not only is it helping doctors catch stomach, colon and pancreatic cancers faster, it's preventing unnecessary surgeries.

Dan Doyle wears a picture of his grandkids on his undershirt. "Oh yeah! Close to my heart. Grandpa's goblins," he said. Doyle, 68, is quite the survivor, having made it through Vietnam, and two different types of cancer. "I consider myself lucky to have had all this time and get all my grand kids and stuff but I still want to keep on doing it. You know I want more time," he said.

So, when Doyle started having stomach problems three years ago, he knew he could be in for another fight.  Doctors performed an endoscopy, and they found precancerous cells, but without knowing exactly where the bad cells were they couldn't just go back and remove them.

Not until Doyle met Doctor Bimaljit Sandhu of Richmond Gastroenterology Associates.

"It's a revolution. It's really a revolution," he said.

Sandhu used what's called the Cellvizio, a new technology that allows for real-time diagnosis of cancerous tissue. The Cellvizio is a tiny microscope with a high-speed laser. The instrument is threaded through a traditional endoscope and can take real time pictures of areas like the esophagus, bile duct, colon and pancreas.

"We were able to pinpoint the area which was precancerous. We used a technique to snare it off and sure enough the biopsy showed precancerous changes," Sandhu said.

For patients like Doyle, the cancer was caught early and isolated.

"They went down and they found two patches of the bad cells and removed them all the same trip," he said. "Mine was not major surgery. I drove home the same afternoon."

This advanced technology means patients can get a diagnosis of cancer immediately at their bedside during a routine procedure. "This technology doesn't stop it. It helps us deliver the treatment which stops it," Sandhu said.

That leaves Doyle to look after his grandkids for quite some time. "That's the reason I'm glad to be alive," he said.

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